Walmart has narrowed the field of prospective suppliers down to 850 participants for this year’s virtually conducted Open Call slated for Oct. 1. The retailer sifted through more than 4,800 product pitches this year, a 44% increase from the number of submissions last year.
COVID-19 forced Walmart to conduct the annual event virtually and it was pushed back to October from June. Participants this year come from 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia and Mozambique. The businesses selected to participate in Open Call will have a 30-minute virtual one-one-one pitch meeting and their chance to “realize the American Dream,” Walmart said in a news release Tuesday (Sept. 8).
Hugh Jarratt, CEO of Fayetteville-based Jarratt Industries, has been a Walmart supplier for several years and told Talk Business & Politics he will pitch a new product to Walmart during his online meeting at Open Call.
Jarratt is pitching his plastic breakfast, lunch and dinner plate dubbed Sunday Funday. The plastic plate is akin to the Crawfish Platter he got on shelves earlier this year. He said the Sunday Funday oval-shaped plate is heavier duty than the entry-level product sold at Walmart. He said unlike the melamine plates also sold in retail, his product is dishwasher and microwave safe. He said the product comes in four color designs and will be at a price point under the $2.50 per plate of the competing melamine plates.
“We love them. They are nice enough for Sunday but practical enough for everyday use. We also love that these plates are made locally in Prairie Grove at PolyTech Molding. We are happy to work with PolyTech on other products as well and they continue to be an important partner for our growing business,” Jarratt said.
He said there is value in using local manufacturing, and it’s not just because it shortened the supply chain. Earlier this spring at the height of crawfish season, Jarratt said the mold used to make those plates broke at PolyTech. It took an around-the-clock effort to remake the mold and got the order to Walmart on time. Jarratt said when working with local manufacturing, it is easier to be in the loop when issues arise. Polytech Molding also makes the taco plates, tailgate plates and double-dip bowls that Jarratt sells on Walmart.com and Amazon.com.
Jarratt said the process to sign-up using RangeMe was not an issue for him. As a serial entrepreneur and inventor, he said just about everyone uses RangeMe to get their products noticed. He said it’s a great way for buyers to also find new products and never have to leave their home office in the midst of COVID-19.
“I have had a RangeMe account for a long time,” he said.
He has pitched items to buyers in person at each of Walmart’s Open Calls in years past. But, he got the Crawfish Platter on the shelf by pitching it during a routine annual line review about 18 months ago. Jarratt said pitching via a Zoom meeting this year will be different, but he will be ready.
Walmart previously offered breakout sessions at its home office auditorium to provide participants with additional information about doing business with Walmart. The 2020 Open Call will offer those breakout sessions online which are free and open to the general public.
Walmart said some of the other businesses invited to participate in Open Call 2020 include:
• Freedom Deodorant, Las Vegas, – Sanitizing wipes with essential oils
• Backyard Brine, Cutchogue, N.Y. – Garlic Dill pickles
• Amboseli Food, LLC, Layton, Utah – Tangy Sumac Spice Seasoning
• Semper Fi Veterans, LLC, Exton, Pa. – Free Range Duck Eggs
• Lick You Silly Pet Products, Glen Ridge, N.J. – Natural Beef Liver Dog Treats
• Cat in a Box, Ashland, Mass. – Cat furniture
Jarratt said Walmart has always been a good partner. He admitted it’s hard with low-margin items to compete on local store shelves because so much of the business is moving online. He said his Walmart.com and Amazon.com businesses are growing and outpacing the store business in some categories. But, he said, getting some product into stores has been crucial to his business success.
“I am excited to pitch this product to buyers and I think it could compete well against what Walmart already sells in its stores,” Jarratt said.
Open Call is just one way Walmart is working to fulfill its 10-year commitment to source an additional $250 billion in products made in the U.S. by 2023. Walmart said it is ahead of schedule toward meeting the goal.