Big-box U.S. retailers are being forced to get creative to find new revenue streams while battling inflation and subsiding e-commerce growth. Many firms have sounded the alarm for 2023, fearing that those factors could trigger a recession and hamper their online product sales.
But who said online sales need to be limited to products? Just days after Amazon announced a major expansion to Buy with Prime, a service that allows merchants to offer Prime fulfillment and delivery benefits on their own platforms, Walmart on Thursday revealed that it will offer its GoLocal and Store Assist services through Salesforce.
Officially, the partnership is between the customer relationship management firm (NYSE: CRM) and the massive retailer’s (NYSE: WMT) Commerce Technologies and GoLocal divisions.
Combined, the two firms will provide omnichannel sales services, multichannel fulfillment, local delivery management and other features designed to create an end-to-end shopping experience for consumers.
“Through this partnership, retailers can leverage the same innovative and scalable technologies that power Walmart’s pickup and delivery experiences,” said Anshu Bhardwaj, senior vice president of technology strategy and commercialization for Walmart Global Technology. “The same technology that powers Store Assist has enabled Walmart to fulfill over 830 million orders across over 4,700 Walmart stores. Together with Salesforce, retailers can scale their business and deliver the personalized, convenient experiences shoppers expect.”
The deal between Walmart and Salesforce has striking parallels to Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) expansion of Buy with Prime earlier this week. Much like Buy with Prime allows merchants to offer free and next-day delivery and free returns to Prime customers, Salesforce is now letting its merchants offer a similar array of services from Walmart.
One service, GoLocal, launched by Walmart in August 2021 and now counting companies like Home Depot as clients, allows retailers to make local same-day deliveries under their own branding. Already, GoLocal delivers from more than 1,600 locations, a number that should rise significantly following the Salesforce partnership.
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Walmart will also grant Salesforce merchants access to Store Assist, an app that helps store associates use their stores like local fulfillment centers. Retailers can use it to improve picking accuracy, speed and efficiency and to enable in-store fulfillment methods like buy online pick up in store.
“Retailers are looking for ways to improve cost efficiency while meeting their customers’ needs, no matter where or how they choose to shop. Fulfillment from stores is an effective way to achieve these goals and serve customers quickly and reliably through local delivery,” said Harsit Patel, vice president and general manager of Walmart GoLocal.
Both GoLocal and Store Assist will become available on Salesforce AppExchange, the company’s marketplace for integrated solutions, starting this spring. When they do, merchants will be able to orchestrate fulfillment and delivery in the same place they leverage Salesforce products like Commerce Cloud and Order Management.
That sort of seamless integration has become increasingly important for retailers, many of whom still rely on separate companies to handle delivery, fulfillment, order management and other services.
“Shoppers continue to expect brands to deliver highly connected and frictionless experiences across physical and digital touch points. In fact, 1 in 5 online orders placed the weekend before Christmas were picked up in store,” said Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail for Salesforce, citing the company’s internal research.
“With the combined power of Walmart and Salesforce,” he continued, “retailers can drive success with best-in-class technology to advance their omnichannel capabilities, drive efficiency, and ensure that every purchase quickly gets into the hands of the shopper — no matter where they are.”
Of course, not every retailer can achieve seamless integrations across the board. But that’s exactly the gap Walmart and Salesforce intend to fill by offering a third-party service that encompasses every aspect of e-commerce selling, from order to delivery.