On March 20 of this year, Walmart opened the application process for this year’s cohort of the Walmart Start Program, which closes on April 28, 2023. The program, which is now in its second year, offers upcoming and innovative brands the opportunity to access educational resources and support to scale their brand at mass and take operations to the next level in the cosmetics and personal beauty care marketplaces.
To learn more about the background behind the program, the types of applications being sought, and some of last year’s success stories, CosmeticsDesign spoke with Creighton Kiper, VP of Merchandising, Beauty at Walmart for his insights.
The Walmart Start program
Launched last year, the program “is on the hunt for the next disruptive brands in beauty and is designed to help up-and-coming brands succeed and scale at mass,” Kiper shared. Open to a variety of brands in the cosmetic and personal beauty care product spaces including skincare, makeup, hair, nails and more, this year’s cohort will welcome “at least five unique brands to receive access to key resources, including executional and operational individualized support, specific to launching successfully at Walmart in store and online launch in the next year,” he added.
For brands at a crucial crossroads in their expansion plans or seeking to take the next step in penetrating their category at a larger scale, the Walmart Start program offers support in three key areas: education, brand activation, and mentorship and networking.
Educational support includes access to the Walmart Start virtual classroom series, where suppliers can learn useful tips “ranging from shipping to invoicing to prepare them for a potential launch” Kiper explained. Additionally, throughout the program, “selected accelerator brands will also get to choose a brand management consultant and operational individualized support on how to navigate Walmart tools, process, requirements, reporting and more to prepare for a potential launch at Walmart.”
Regarding brand activation support, “all brands selected to launch under Walmart Start will be included in select marketing efforts like campaigns on Walmart.com,” and further, will also receive “Walmart Connect Acceleration Academy admission, which includes Walmart Connect credits,” Kiper shared.
The program also offers participating brands the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals with “continued one-on-one mentorship from Walmart merchants,” as well as the chance to “connect with and learn from industry professionals and brand founders through Walmart’s exclusive monthly speaker series,” he added.
The application and selection process
This year’s cohort follows in the footsteps of the first Walmart Start class, which “successfully launched the next big names in beauty, including Dossier, The Hair Lab by Strands, Pardon My Fro and PaintLab,” all of which are now shoppable on Walmart.com and in select stores across the US.
Walmart is looking for brand applicants that meet specific criteria. This includes being prepared with the “manufacturing, supply chain and financial capabilities that can support a potential launch in 1,000 stores,” Kiper explained, as well as having a Federal Tax ID number, Dun & Bradstreet number, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and GS1 membership number already in place. Additionally, applicants must carry a minimum of $5 million in liability insurance and cannot have current or prior modular placement within Walmart stores.
Once the application period closes, finalist brands will be invited to participate in virtual beauty merchant meetings in June 2023, and final brand selection will be announced by July 2023 as detailed on the Walmart website. “If selected to launch in stores and/or online, a brand management consultant will be accessible up until your brand’s intended launch date,” Kiper added. “The Walmart Start will continue throughout 2023, as brands work through onboarding milestones,” he concluded.