Partner Your Way to Walmart Connect Success

By Victoria Van Dusen, The Mars Agency


How do I maximize my media investment with Walmart Connect? That’s a question being asked by a lot of commerce marketers these days.


And while many marketers are probably searching for the answer by examining first-party data and attributed sales metrics, the most important solution might be a little more old-fashioned: collaboration.


Beyond the audience segmentation possibilities and onsite/offsite media opportunities, the most effective way to maximize your investment is to truly partner with Walmart Connect every step of the way, from campaign planning through execution.


Over the last year, Walmart Connect has been using the diagram below to illustrate how the retail media network is using the “One Walmart” approach to vendor partnerships that’s been adopted across the retailer’s entire operation. “One Walmart is providing opportunities for all touch points,” said Diana Finster, Walmart Connect’s Head of Agency & Tech Partnerships, while speaking at Commerce Week last month.

Walmart Connect’s goal is align the priorities of supplier and merchant to unlock joint resources by finding the “big bets” that can lead to business growth for both parties. “[We are] here to accelerate advertisers’ retail media ecosystem and dedicated to growing and improving all facets of how we work together,” Finster said at the conference.


But that commonly leads to some additional questions: What exactly does it mean to connect merchant and supplier priorities or to unlock joint resources? Here’s one example:


Walmart recently launched a cross-team planning process called the QSP, or Quarterly Strategic Planning meeting. It's a collaborative session in which the four groups depicted in the diagram — Walmart Connect, Site Operations, Marketing and Merchandising — get together to discuss how merchant priorities can be supported more holistically across the activity on Walmart.com.


The teams use these sessions to determine which products will be featured throughout the site on various category landing pages that are curated to deliver shopper solutions, such as summer grilling favorites or fall flavors.


Suppliers have been asking for a long time how they can get their products featured on these prime pieces of Walmart.com real estate. Now, Walmart Connect’s Joint Business Planning partners can unlock this resource for their products through a media spend that aligns with items prioritized by the merchants.


Fundamentally, the first step for suppliers is to make sure your internal Sales and Marketing teams are in sync, so that Sales is communicating the same priorities to the merchant that the marketing team is communicating to Walmart Connect. It's absolutely critical that merchants are aligned on the priority SKUs that will be supported by your commerce marketing campaigns.


From there, ensure that both your Walmart Connect rep and your merchant are regularly informed and aligned on the priorities and innovation supported through your upcoming media spend. This way, your brands can be smoothly integrated into the site merchandising and marketing plans emerging from these QSPs.


It's important to note that brands investing in Walmart Connect are more likely to be chosen as the strategic partners who’ll be able to unlock these value ads and gain incremental placement across the Walmart.com platform. But it’s the brands who seek to develop these kinds of collaborative partnerships that will be able to maximize investments by jointly finding new opportunities to drive growth.


The Mars Agency uses its cross-functional Customer Commerce team in Bentonville to help clients develop best-in-class omnichannel partnerships with Walmart and Sam's Club. As one example of those efforts, the video below outlines a program that was cited by Walmart Connect as a best-in-class example of the One Walmart approach coming to life.



By aligning the brand’s priorities with those of Walmart’s merchant and marketing teams, we were able to collaborate with Walmart Connect to create an omnichannel media campaign that delivered an entertaining, behavior-changing shopper experience while driving strong results for both SKITTLES® and the retailer.


And that’s a perfect way to maximize your investment.


At The Mars Agency, we are committed to being leaders in innovation. To help our clients stay ahead of the competition in a fast-paced and constantly evolving marketplace, we closely monitor any and all news across the Walmart ecosystem so clients stay "in-the-know” about this key customer.

About the Author

Victoria Van Dusen brings a level of detail to client engagements that builds trust and drives success. Her more than 20 years of experience supporting major retailers and CPG brands shows in her knowledge of commerce marketing. As Senior Vice President-Customer Development on the Walmart team in Bentonville, Victoria leads omnichannel marketing, media, and traditional retail integrated teams across multiple clients. She has the prowess to strategically steer large-scale programs with the thoughtfulness of exceptional personal partnerships.