LITTLE ROCK — Hundreds of inventors have flocked to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville to find out if the country needs a few more secret sauces, prettier mouse pads or “instant hair gel” packets for the on-the-go clubber.
The 500 businesses selected to take part in Walmart’s fourth annual “Open Call” Wednesday have already been offered spots on the company’s online portals, as it battles Amazon for billions of dollars in revenue. Visits with Walmart’s marketing team, though, could land any number of entrepreneurs shelf space in nearly 4,700 brick-and-mortar stores.
“It’s a high-stakes game,” Scott Hilton, Walmart’s executive chief revenue officer for e-commerce, said as the meeting opened.
“You may not receive a deal, but you have a chance to spend 30 minutes with a Fortune 1 buyer,” Walmart spokesman Scott Markley said ahead of the daylong meeting intended to increase jobs at American companies. “They know more about the market for the product than you do.”
Amazon on Wednesday held its own event for online sellers. Through its portal, it gives any would-be sellers step-by-step online guidance on how to receive and fulfill orders.
With auditions, Walmart does it differently, and its physical stores handle a finite number of goods. Bringing potential sellers to headquarters for Wednesday’s crash course in marketing reinforces Walmart’s path to making money.