Walmart builds a platform to connect creators, content and social … – RetailWire

The creator economy market is estimated to be worth $104.2 billion, and the number of creators continues to grow drastically. This surge of user-generated content (UGC) is causing retailers to rethink how they leverage and manage social commerce, content, and creators.
While many generally available digital exchanges connect creators and influencers with brands, Walmart is beta-testing its own exchange to bring together content, creators, and commerce. Walmart Creator, a commerce platform for monetizing shoppable products, is the next evolution of the retailer’s social media strategy and digital presence.
Sarah Henry, VP, Content, influencer, and commerce at Walmart, said the retailer intends to “shorten (the) distance between content and purchase” during a recent fireside chat – “From Inspiration to Purchase: Walmart’s Approach to Content, Creators and Social Commerce” – at eTail West Palm Springs 2023.
The Walmart Creator platform is designed to nurture relationships with creators (anyone with the ability to tell stories who has an audience) to:
The platform allows content creators to share stories and product recommendations that drive on-site and in-store traffic. Creators generate content for their own following, building their brand presence while earning commissions via Walmart’s Affiliates programs.
Walmart aims to improve the product discovery process through partnerships with creators who have highly-engaged communities that can increase the visibility of under-shopped categories and demonstrate ways to think about Walmart differently. The retailer is implementing technology to reduce steps during the shopping experience via shoppable recipes, live streaming, partnerships and “buy from” ads.
Walmart takes a full-funnel approach, incorporating many channels into its campaign mix. The “real power of the strategy is the always-on storytelling capabilities,” said Ms. Henry, who shared that the retailer held 350 livestream events in 2022 and works with 10,000+ influencers, affiliates, advocates and content creators.
The surge of UGC and the changes in the digital landscape mean retailers and brands must change their social media and digital strategies to better connect with shoppers and creators. Walmart is doing a smart thing by developing its platform and owning the intersection of social commerce, content, and creators.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your assessment of Walmart’s content, creators and social commerce approach? How does Walmart Creator compare to efforts by other retailers to harness the power of user-generated content?
13 Comments on “Walmart builds a platform to connect creators, content and social commerce”
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This is a good initiative, although it does sound quite similar to Amazon’s Inspire program which launched late last year. There has been a fusion between entertainment via social media and shopping, especially among younger generations. Walmart’s new platform seems like it will cater to that, although success will depend on the quality of the content. Separately, Walmart needs to sort out its website which has become increasingly difficult to shop with random marketplace products cluttering up products available directly from Walmart.
This is an interesting concept. I’m always all for making shopping more social and inspired by what makes social media successful. I just wonder where this content will be housed — will it require shoppers to choose the content as a destination, or will it be organically easy to stumble upon? That decision is a key determinant in how I see this triggering purchases.
Hi Melissa – the question of where content resides was one of the top topics at eTail. With the myriad of channels and sources for content WMT Creator is intended to get visibility to relevant content, coordinate (and compensate) with creators to create integrated campaign that improve product discovery and take steps out of the purchase process.
Kudos to Walmart for trying this. Will it stick? I’m not sure. I see a reckoning where retailers will rationalize these “special projects” against their core value prop and ROI. We’re already seeing this at Amazon. They’ve exited their personal shopper program (sad about that and) Amazon Fresh. They shut down some of their Prime services like Drive and Photo.
Will this one have legs? I don’t know, but I caution against getting too far away from one’s core business, and supporting a social network doesn’t really feel like the Walmart brand.
A huge upside here is an increase in sustainable business practices in retail that Walmart can champion. By launching this beta test to grow user generated content and develop a strong digital connection between shoppers and consumers, Walmart is going green. I’d like to see a sustainability report generated from this beta. It would be insightful.
The proclamation that “content is king” has been around for years now. The difficulty for the consumer is that “content/storytelling” is beginning to proliferate in every digital journey and becoming reminiscent of flyers in a mailbox–so much that one simply wants to avoid it to get to the heart of one’s reason for visiting. How, where and why the content is served up to the consumer is critical to its success.
Yes, Allison. And I am sure as we see more content, the content providers will be less skilled and more boring.
There is YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and others that provide huge audiences. Will Walmart be able to provide the visibility that the creators crave?
That’s absolutely the point, Gene. Brands need viability to content in which they are referenced. I think it’s smart of WMT to develop their own platform to connect with creators. Creators can earn commissions on sales and WMT can provide product information, quick-buy tech features and interstate creators in campaign.
Although this is an amazing program that puts WOM marketing on steroids, my concern is whether or not Walmart is running before it can walk in the content game. At a minimum, Walmart is currently not capturing UGC fully with product reviews due to a lack of ability to post videos. Great content should be present and available wherever the customer is, so adding this element to individual product pages should be a priority.
It seems enticing, but my prediction is that there will be 5-10 creators that own 90%+ of the views (each SME in their own niche) and there won’t be a big enough audience to support anyone else – so good luck to creators at climbing to the top of the podium., Get in early.
Patricia, great read! Kudos to Walmart. While the Content Creator space did not need a retail legacy leader for endorsement, this could do nothing but add value to the short to mid-range legitimacy of the industry. Walmart is betting on trust as the new currency of exchange to reduce the sales cycle in today’s economy. However, I too share the angst about where this content will be housed for consumption. The best platform is not on the Walmart website. Content creator loyalists will seek the content on the influencer’s various platforms, first. Walmart needs to consider a deeper method of influencer platform collaboration in order to ensure “success.”
Walmart has recognized the significant opportunity and revenue stream within content creation, authentic storytelling, and the fusion of commerce and social selling. The lines between social media, influencing, commerce, and retail are blurring, and Walmart, along with Amazon, are wise to capitalize on the moment by providing a platform for content creation.
However, the long-term success of this social selling, content creation and live streaming initiative is very dependent on the execution side and the eventual integration within Walmarts commerce platform. Ultimately, social selling and content creation must lead to commerce and sales conversions to fully realize this experiment’s ROI. Walmart and other retailers must ensure that the platform provides an authentic storytelling arena and allows customers to shop without much friction.

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