Walmart Inc. has created a shopping website for small to medium-sized businesses and nonprofits that features a curated selection of products and other perks.
The Walmart website at http://business.walmart.com groups more than 100,000 products ranging from laptops to toilet paper under headings such as office, break room, tech, cleaning products and teacher supplies.
The Bentonville-based retailer said in a corporate blog post that Walmart Business also lets organizations add up to five users on a single account. Customers can share payment information, order history and purchasing power across teams.
And eligible organizations can sign up for the Walmart tax-exemption program that automatically removes eligible taxes at checkout.
Walmart has talked with these organizations "for months" to understand their needs and how best to meet them, said Ashley Hubka, senior vice president and general manager of Walmart Business.
"Walmart Business is built to leverage the very best of Walmart," Hubka said. This includes "our unmatched operating scale, our proximity within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population and the very best of our e-commerce, fulfillment and delivery technologies."
While it costs nothing to join Walmart Business, businesses and nonprofits have the option to sign up for the Walmart Business Plus subscription membership at $98 a year plus tax.
The Plus membership comes with free shipping with no minimums; free pickup and delivery from stores with a $35 minimum order; 2% rewards on orders of $250 or more; and 5% savings on eligible items with a subscription.
A Walmart spokeswoman said that for now, the company is focused on business customers' online experience, although their purchases can still be picked up in stores or curbside, or delivered.
Organizations are deemed eligible as small or mid-sized businesses or nonprofits by the information collected when they sign up for an account, the spokeswoman said.
Savings for organizations with a free member account comes from Walmart's everyday low prices, she said, while those with Plus memberships save through the extra perks.
Carol Spieckerman, a retail consultant and president of Spieckerman Retail, said that since Walmart said it's "listening" to business and nonprofit customers, no doubt Walmart Business will continue to evolve.
"Walmart can scrap what isn't working and continue to build upon the program based on customer feedback and competitive dynamics," Spieckerman said.
And through its curated assortments, she said, "Walmart can also encourage suppliers to offer business-friendly incentives and special pricing for items that are promoted on the dedicated website."
Spieckerman said some of the benefits of Walmart Business sound much like the retailer's current advantages and Walmart Plus program "lures." But the ability for businesses to add multiple users to a single account, share payment information and calculate taxes are "nice, business-friendly touches," she said.
"I think of this as an initial announcement intended to set the hook" encouraging organizations to upgrade to Walmart Business Plus, Spieckerman said.
Home improvement retailers continue to court business customers and Walmart has previously said it's interested in doing the same, she said.
"Walmart Business formalizes that intent," Spieckerman said, "and is likely only the beginning of a full push to create a suite of services and programs tailored to small businesses and nonprofits."