In 2017, the Florida-based company, ExcelCare Products, managed to place its “Mimaditos” baby wipes — a brand that was founded in Venezuela — on the shelves of the largest retailer in the United States. But what is the secret behind that achievement?
According to Fabiana Vaamonde, marketing and sales manager at ExcelCare Products, the success is due in large part to the company’s participation in Walmart’s “Open Call” — an annual event through which entrepreneurs and small business owners can present their products to the company’s buyers for the opportunity to launch their merchandise in thousands of stores nationwide.
“Going to Open Call was everything. Just being at Walmart and being able to use it as a business card to other customers and having the opportunity to stock our products in 100 Florida stores and then put our brand on Walmart.com, the truth is that the change has been impressive and the growth as well,” Vaamonde said.
Today, ExcelCare Products is focused exclusively on Walmart.com, selling its three wet towel brands, Mimaditos, Whice and Bresh, and achieving “greater reach across the country and reaching all Hispanic niches,” according to Vaamonde. ExcelCare Products now has a strong presence in Florida, New York, Texas and California.
Walmart has held this event for the past seven years. The company debated whether to hold it this year. But because the economic impact due to the coronavirus pandemic has been particularly devastating for small businesses, Walmart decided to give it a go.
“This year, more than ever, this event is super important because it gives us, as a large company, the opportunity to provide support to small businesses that need it so much due to the circumstances,” said Adriana Pereira-Reyes, Walmart’s public relations director. “Having a product at Walmart means so much to a supplier. There are companies that have managed to double in size and expand and create more jobs.
“It’s true that we must take care of our health, but it’s also important to open the doors to small businesses to take care of the health of our economy,” she added.
To participate, business owners must submit their applications before August 10. The only requirements are that their merchandise is produced on U.S. soil and that the product is ready for sale.
“The products can be of any type, clothing, toys, cleaning products, food, sports equipment, everything. But the product has to be ready for sale. They can’t bring us an idea because this is not to help creation. It has to be a product that is in stock and ready to be sold in a store,” said Pereira-Reyes.
Selected businesses will have the opportunity to participate in a virtual event scheduled for Oct. 1. On that day, they will give a 15-minute sales pitch to buyers, meet Walmart executives, and learn from company leaders during smaller sessions designed to inform, train and encourage participants.
In Open Call, suppliers must try to convince Walmart buyers to select their products. The final decision depends on each case, according to Pereira-Reyes.
“At that point they can give you a no, they can give you a yes, or, sometimes the conversations continue and after a few months they can select you,” she said.
In previous years, the event was held at Walmart’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. But this time it will take place virtually in response to the spread of COVID-19 infections.
Although having an Open Call online will prevent participants and Walmart buyers from meeting in person, Pereira-Reyes said it could be beneficial in terms of business participation.
“Being virtual, it eliminates the cost of traveling to Arkansas and gives the opportunity to more people who could not afford this cost,” said Pereira-Reyes.
In 2019, more than 350 companies from all over the country participated. Pereira-Reyes said they have between three and five South Florida suppliers as finalists each year.
Becoming a Walmart supplier depends on the type of product, its market and the ability to supply the product.
“They usually start with a list of markets and areas and grow from there — the goal is to grow. It also depends on the product and where it makes sense to sell the product. If it is a Latino product, for example, we are going to place it where there is Latino demand,” Pereira-Reyes said.
Open Call is part of Walmart’s mission to help drive job creation and product manufacturing in the U.S. by purchasing $250 billion in products that support U.S. jobs by 2023. According to Pereira-Reyes, people who shop at Walmart are increasingly demanding locally manufactured products.
“It’s a priority for our customers to buy homemade products. It is also our duty to support jobs in America,” Pereira-Reyes said.
Walmart will hold an online pre-application seminar for everyone interested in participating in the Open Call. With this, they hope that potential candidates will be able to understand what the event is about, how to do business with Walmart, how to make a sales pitch and how to meet the minimum requirements for suppliers.
The seminars will be given for free at 11 a.m. Tuesday and at 2 p.m. Wednesday. For more information visit eventbrite.com and search for Walmart Open Call.