The Supply Side: Walmart expands Luminate sales data platform

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 330 views 

Last October, Walmart announced the phase-out of its Decision Support System (DSS) app in the Retail Link portal it shares with suppliers. The portal allows suppliers to track their online and in-store business with Walmart.

Walmart is not phasing out Retail Link, but access to the DSS app for all users in the U.S. will be removed beginning in Q2 this year with a 30-day notice to suppliers. The retail giant has asked all suppliers to use Walmart Luminate, its data insights service launched in 2021.

Walmart planned for the migration to be complete by March 1 but communicated the new Q2 timeframe in February 2024 to give users more time to migrate to the Walmart Luminate platform. Walmart Luminate Basic was made available for suppliers free of charge in December 2023.

Suppliers have been asked to sign on to Luminate Basic, which is free, and see what information is being provided. Walmart also offers a Charter version for a fee based on sales percentages. The Charter version includes consumer sights, demand planning help and other data on shopper behavior.

Walmart said the Luminate Basic provides some key benefits not found in DSS, such as better filtering tools, faster run times and email notifications of completed reports.

“While we acknowledge DSS is part of Walmart’s legacy, we are confident the move from DSS to Walmart Luminate will deliver an enhanced experience. Our suppliers have frequently asked for stable data and more flexibility in data organization. Walmart Luminate allows us to use data in ways we haven’t been able to before,” Walmart said in October.

Walmart said all the reports that could run DSS will be available in Luminate Basic or other apps in the Retail Link portal. The retailer announced in May the expansion of Luminate in new markets beginning in Mexico, followed by Canada later this year.

“We couldn’t be more excited to extend our innovative retail solutions to these new markets and empower our merchants and suppliers with a shared view of the customer and our products — from the physical to the digital shelf,” said Mark Hardy, head of Walmart Data Ventures. “Since we launched Walmart Luminate, we’ve successfully aided in optimizing retail strategies — from product assortment to product development — leveling the playing field for suppliers of all sizes.”

Hardy said 90% of Walmart’s most prominent suppliers have signed up for a Walmart Luminate Charter subscription, while some smaller suppliers account for half of total subscriptions.

Mirroring the U.S. strategy, the Luminate expansion internationally will be a phased launch, starting with shopper behavior followed by channel performance and customer perception.

Suppliers actively engaged in the Charter subscription applaud the expansion into global markets.

“At Kimberly-Clark, Walmart Luminate has played an integral role in our strategy,” said Amanda Coussoule, the company’s vice president of sales for Walmart Inc. “Walmart Luminate empowers us to tailor our offerings precisely to consumer needs, ensuring unparalleled shopping experiences. Extending this capability to Walmex and Walmart Canada will further enhance our ability to make data-driven decisions.”

Bayer recently worked with Walmart Luminate Charter before launching four new digestive health products. Bayer ran three customer surveys with the Walmart Luminate Charter customer perception tool to gain shopper insights. The survey data from Luminate indicated that 60% would potentially buy the new product, Alka-Seltzer Fizzy Melts, driven by brand trust, the convenience of not being needed and its unique form. The survey data also let Bayer know why the product would be purchased. The top reason was “fast-acting,” followed by “no water needed.” Bayer also discovered that price and flavor were unimportant to the customers who purchased the product.

“Walmart Luminate (Charter) has changed the way we work. Because of these wonderful tools, our internal teams are incorporating Walmart Luminate earlier into the innovation process,” said Melissa Fandich, Bayer executive in Bentonville.

There are supplier frustrations with the transition to Luminate Basic. The biggest thing that needs to be added to Luminate Basic is the purchase order information that has to be sourced from the NOVA app inside Retail Link. Also, e-commerce information is limited to sales and inventory and does not include performance data.

DeeDee Washburn, CEO and founder of Little Rock-based Retail Training & Consulting, said Luminate Basic will require deep knowledge of Excel. She said Walmart does provide some basic training, but all suppliers need to know how to use the buyer reports.

Washburn said Basic is good enough to pull everything she needs to manage her work with suppliers. However, she can no longer share reports. Sharing is reserved for Charter subscriptions. She also said for e-commerce sellers all the Basic version provides is data on site-to-home. It takes the Charter version to see the omnichannel picture and more cohesive category data.

Editor’s note: The Supply Side section of Talk Business & Politics focuses on the companies, organizations, issues and individuals engaged in providing products and services to retailers. The Supply Side is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by Firebend.