(CTN News) – When you’re the world’s largest retailer, you sell a lot. You’ll see what I mean if you walk into any Walmart. Almost 200,000 square feet of space are devoted to stores, which carry an average of 120,000 products.
Walmart.com, the company’s website, sells around 160 million different products. That’s a lot, but nothing compared to Walmart.com. With so many products, things can get very complicated very quickly. This turns out to be a valuable lesson for every organization. In a moment, we’ll get to that part.
If you shop at Walmart.com, you might think you’re shopping, but that’s not always the case. Walmart’s marketplace mostly sells products sold by third-party sellers. The sellers are often responsible for managing their own inventory, listing products on the website, and shipping products.
This seems like a good deal for everyone. In exchange for access to customers, sellers pay a commission. When you shop at Walmart, you get more products to choose from–without having to manage inventory.
When you let anyone sell things on your website, some of it is going to be problematic. Their products may not meet your standards. There might be some fake information or scams out there.
Walmart, for example, had this 11TB SSD external storage for under $30 earlier this week. It’s not real, though. It is impossible to find an 11TB SSD for that price. I could find a reputable external solid-state storage drive for around $50 for 1TB.
Upon reviewing the reviews, it was obvious that the drive was a scam. Additionally, a tech reporter took apart a similar product a few years ago and found it mostly empty. In essence, it was a smaller flash drive enclosed in a plastic case.
A Walmart spokesperson told Inc. the following:
The Walmart marketplace platform is built on trust between customers and third-party sellers, has zero tolerance for fraudulent sellers and prohibited products. In order to protect customers and sellers, we are investing heavily in technology, people, custom capabilities, and robust policies and processes.”
This problem isn’t unique, by the way. That drive the reporter bought wasn’t from but from Amazon, which also has a third-party marketplace and deals with a flood of similar misleading and outright fake products. In an Instagram advertisement, Walmart was promoting this scam, which makes it even more interesting.
Think about that for a minute–it’s not just third-party merchants selling fake products on website, the retailer is paying money to advertise those products. There’s a big problem here–does not want to sell its millions of customers fake products. The fact that it’s promoting them with ads makes it even worse.
Sure, Walmart doesn’t actually sell these fake products–that would be third-party businesses–but to the purchaser, that’s a distinction without a difference. If a customer scrolls through Instagram and sees ad for a product they might enjoy, clicks on the link, and then visits Walmart.com, that customer is buying something from Walmart.
In this case, if they decide to buy the product, add it to their cart, pay for it to be delivered, and later discover it’s a scam, they’re thinking of rather than the business that listed it for sale. Walmart’s reputation is on the line here.
According to Walmart, its social media advertising is automated, which isn’t surprising. The task of sifting products to create Instagram ads is not particularly efficient for a human, not on the scale of Walmart.
The market landscape continues to evolve,” Spokesperson told Inc. “Automated advertising enables retailers to provide exposure to a large volume of items across multiple channels, although it is still evolving and being optimized.” Since counterfeit items and fraudulent sellers are so prevalent, we make it easy for customers, sellers, and brands to report them.
The dedicated global Trust and Safety team reviews these claims rigorously in order to take appropriate action, including the removal of items and sellers from our marketplace.