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Walmart wants to make it easier for third-party vendors

A Wal-Mart package is unloaded from a trailer to be sorted at a FedEx ground hub in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Walmart is launching a new service that allows third-party vendors to hire the retailer to store, pack and ship items for customers, a move that could better position the big-box retailer to compete against Amazon.

Through Walmart Fulfillment Services, third-party vendors that sell clothing or other items in Walmart.com’s marketplace can pay to have the retailer handle the logistics of getting items to a customer’s door. They currently have to use a third-party to handle fulfillment or do it themselves.

Walmart said in an email that it will begin to roll out the new service Tuesday.

Walmart said sellers and customers will benefit from the new service. It said sellers will pay a low fee to store and ship goods. Customers will have more brands to choose from, faster shipping and easier returns. The company did not say how much it will charge third-party vendors.

Walmart is expanding its e-commerce offerings, after having significant growth that’s driven by online grocery sales. The company’s online sales grew by 37% last year, topping its own internal growth targets of 35%. It’s acquired several digital brands, including menswear company Bonobos and outdoor apparel maker Moosejaw, and launched other online-focused brands in-house.

Walmart announced another e-commerce change Tuesday. In a company memo, Walmart executives said they are combining its buyer teams for the website and for stores. Buyers will now be split into merchandising categories, such as food, and they will buy all items in that category regardless of where they’re sold.

Against a broader drop in the market, Walmart shares were recently down nearly 2%. The stock, which has a market value of $324 billion, has gained nearly 16% over the past year. 

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