Walmart Relaunches 'Connected Partners' Program for Content Providers

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Walmart Relaunches 'Connected Partners' Program for Content Providers

By Patrycja Malinowska - 09/28/2018

Originally published by Path to Purchase Institute

Walmart is changing the way it works with digital content providers by choosing 11 partners to ally with on a priority level, P2PI has learned.

These content providers — third parties that scale and optimize content from suppliers to retailers — will be investing in Walmart by maintaining an onsite presence that will help them ensure that technical issues and business priorities are addressed efficiently and effectively.

Digital content has become increasingly important as customers have moved away from shopping via a single source. Content present on an item page influences not only online discoverability and sales, but also voice commerce, VR shopping, list recommendations and in-store purchases. Yet suppliers remain challenged by the fact that there is not a single standard of product attributes and content type required across all retailers, and third-party content providers aren't always fully aware of retailers' evolving priorities and processes.

With feedback from more than 650 suppliers and an extensive selection process, Walmart vetted 11 "Connected Content Partners" that it will work with to eliminate inconsistencies while improving quality and effectiveness. The partners will have direct contact with the merchandising teams and unprecedented access to Walmart's systems, allowing them to help with content strategy, facilitate conversations with merchants, and quickly make updates and fix content errors — all while driving cost efficiencies. As part of their contracts with Walmart, the partners must provide transparency in their rate cards, drive measurable results and complete a formal review every six months.

The partners are grouped under four categories:

  • Syndication partners map and integrate existing brand content to many retailers: Boston-based Salsify and San Francisco-based Content Analytics.
  • Enrichment partners create and manage content for suppliers by category: Chicago-based Nielsen Brandbank; Chicago-based Gladson; Hauppauge, NY-based SMSB Consulting Group; Fayetteville, AR-based WhyteSpyder; Hollywood, FL-based OneKreate; and San Francisco-based CNET Content Solutions. 
  • Rich media partners create and host rich media including video, comparison charts and 360-degree tours: Rogers, AR-based RichContext and New York-based WebCollage (a fully owned subsidiary of Gladson).
  • UGC partners provide and manage rights to user-generated content: RichContext, New York-based Olapic and Austin-based Bazaarvoice.

Walmart will officially relaunch the program in early January. At this point, switching to one of Walmart's content providers is not a requirement — just an option.

Walmart is also making significant changes to its content studio service provider program, refocusing on private label suppliers that needed an avenue to product content and standardizing them under one style guide.

Sister chain Sam's Club and subsidiary continue to manage a separate product catalog and are not included in the relaunch. 

The move comes after Walmart did some initial heavy lifting to drive scale in its online assortment by filling in gaps left by items that were completely missing product pages. As the retailer continues improving content, it's zeroing in on quality and effectiveness.

The retailer's content plan for next year includes a partnership with Tasty that will bring some of the latter's content and inspiration to