These are unprecedented times for the world: as the threat and impact of COVID-19 spreads, demand for everyday home goods and groceries has increased dramatically, influencing how retailers, distributors and logistics companies deliver and fulfill customer needs. For independent sellers utilizing e-commerce marketplaces, this has led to a multitude of issues: the inability to properly have enough inventory or production to keep up, the challenges of meeting timely fulfillment, dealing with getting listings displaced or even hijacked, and ultimately being depreciated by marketplaces that value volume and convenience over seller care.
Catherine Hix, the owner of the Texas-based natural cleaning products company Organic Chix, was already doing all she could. However, encountering all these roadblocks during the crisis led her to use Walmart Marketplace as a prime source for her now incredibly popular products. Here’s how she did it.
Starting the story of Organic Chix
Organic Chix came into being because Catherine Hix readily saw how people, especially those suffering from various illnesses and their assorted treatments, became increasingly sensitive to household cleaning products. Even the smell of these products could cause an adverse reaction.
“I did a lot of research and was shocked at how many products I used that were made with preservatives, binders and dyes,” Catherine said. “That’s when Organic Chix was born.”
Starting with laundry soap, Catherine started with an all-natural organic laundry soap and did a test run at a local farmer’s market where she could test it in a low-key but interactive way. “We sold over $840 of product at that first farmer’s market. It seemed like a good first step, but I quickly realized the demand for natural products and that we could be doing a lot more than just selling laundry soap.”
Dealing with a pandemic and suddenly becoming popular
Years later, Organic Chix was offering a variety of healthy laundry, living and cleaning products in another online marketplace. As COVID-19 became prominent in the United States, sales started to rapidly climb, especially with their natural alcohol-free hand sanitizer.
“When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic made its way to the United States I never imagined that my hand sanitizer would take-off the way it has,” Catherine said. “We have never claimed that our hand sanitizer protects people against COVID-19 and have never marketed it that way. That being said, we have had independent laboratory testing to ensure that it does kill germs and viruses.” Organic Chix proceeded to scale up their operations to meet this demand.
Dealing with the increased demand was one thing, but then a competing merchant hijacked Organic Chix’s listings with imitation products. The marketplace proceeded to bounce between removing Organic Chix’s listings and re-adding them, all with little or no explanation. Customer reviews noted dissatisfaction with the products, which seemingly stemmed from the other merchant’s imitation listings, but it was nearly impossible to tell them apart.
Catherine wanted to help people most of all. “This is not the time to take advantage of people who are feeling anxious, sensitive, vulnerable and scared,” she said. “Instead, we should be doing all we can to help prevent the spread of this devastating illness by producing effective products and maintaining high-quality standards.” Walmart couldn’t agree more; as one of the largest e-commerce retailers in the world, dedication to ensuring long-lasting support for not just customers but sellers especially during the COVID-19 crisis was paramount.
Introducing Organic Chix to Walmart Marketplace
This negative experience led Catherine to look for better solutions elsewhere. She had not originally sold on Walmart Marketplace, looking for the right moment to bring her products onboard, but now seemed like a really good time what had been happing.
Catherine’s experience with Walmart Marketplace has been markedly different. “From the partnership team, to the onboarding team, to the account team, everybody has been helpful and supportive along the way,” she said. “We’re not one of the major players on the platform but Walmart has made us feel that we are as important to them as any of the big brands – and for that I am very grateful.”
Walmart Marketplace gives us access to communities we can’t reach from our local market. We want everyone to be able to try and enjoy our products and Walmart gives us the reach we need to be able to do just that.
As a curated platform for sellers, Walmart Marketplace was a perfect solution for Catherine and her company. Sellers go through a rigorous vetting process, which as a result reduces the number of bad or illegitimate sellers tremendously. Furthermore, sellers are continually held to our high standards—hijacking listings, price gouging, and creating grey markets are unacceptable and are dealt with quickly using clear lines of communication to all parties.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to share Organic Chix products with more and more people,” Catherine said. “Walmart Marketplace gives us access to communities we can’t reach from our local market. We want everyone to be able to try and enjoy our products and Walmart gives us the reach we need to be able to do just that.”
Building your business in unusual times
Catherine’s experience is a microcosm of what’s going on with the ecommerce market today. Her wish list for what she’d like to have in any marketplace is access to well-trained support staff, quick turnaround times on issues, and having procedures in place to ensure brands are protected.
Her advice on her experience is to “always have people around me that I can go to for advice and support.” Sometimes that means talking to your partner agencies that can help you navigate your issues.