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JTA Investigates: Walmart's Egregious Online Pricing Debacle

So. What’s the deal with Hasbro’s “great retail partner” Walmart and them scalping their own items (most notably The Black Series 6″ figures) on their website? JTA did some investigative research and we have an answer for you. Are you curious to know what’s really going on here and tired of speculating about it? Well, we know why. (more….)

If you decide to be a merchant of the Walmart marketplace (i.e. third party seller), there are many parameters you’re require to fit into or there is “trouble” so to speak. Unlike Amazon, the Walmart marketplace won’t just let ‘anyone’ get on there to sell. They’re a little more discriminating with their sellers than Amazon. Hold on, we’ll get to the crux of this soon, but this part is actually important.

Walmart.com really wants to “be” Amazon’s marketplace. They are looking to be their biggest competitor. From many angles they are, but they’re also a far way off. Unfortunately, Walmart.com remains a big mess and until some things change they really wont’ be a viable competitor. (The same is obviously true at the brick and mortar level.)

Walmart has a policy in place for ALL of the marketplace sellers. It is called the Price Parity Policy. This means that any item sold on Walmart’s marketplace must be within 5% of “a leading website.” Guess what that “leading website is”? It’s Amazon. If you don’t subscribe to this rule, Walmart will “deactivate” your product page if you don’t comply. This simply means that your offerings won’t show up in searches and the buying public won’t see them, etc. Let us be clear: Walmart imposes this policy on ALL of their merchants. Items will no longer appear until seller changes it. It also makes these third party sellers look like scalpers too, but they’re caught between a rock and a hard place. (I mean, they may be scalpers, but most of this is dictated by Walmart.)

When Walmart lists their OWN products for sale, something awry happens. Simply put, Walmart IS NOT making a distinction between Amazon (their main competitor) and Amazon’s own marketplace sellers. Walmart’s algorithms look RIGHT AT AMAZON’s pricing whether or not it is directly from Amazon or instead an Amazon Marketplace seller selling the item. So if Amazon is out of their own $19.99 MSRP TBS6 figures, guess what? Walmart looks to the $44.50, $32.95 or whatever other expensive price is listed for those items.

Again, WALMART is pricing ITEMS according to Amazon (their direct competitor) and it’s done automatically. REPEAT: They’re not making the distinction between what is Amazon “proper” versus what is Amazon’s “marketplace” sellers’ pricing.

Simply put, if Amazon had them for $20, they would also be $20 on Walmart.com. They don’t want to be higher than Amazon. But they sure as heck will ensure that their prices are matching them whenever possible, much to our chagrin.

Where does Hasbro fit into this? Well, they really don’t. Hasbro won’t dictate or set a price as we’ve heard them say for years. MAP, also known as “minimum advertised price” sometimes comes into play with other vendors like Funko Pops, but Hasbro has yet to set this into motion.

Maybe Hasbro should become a little more involved. If they just made enough products, then these figures could easily be found for just under $20 each. Until there is more volume, we’re all be struggling with this mess for as far as the eyes can see. I can’t wait for The Vintage Collection disaster!

Keep in mind that all of this information learned is based on Walmart’s website, not what happens inside brick and mortar. Lord knows what disasters we’ve all experienced that take place at the store level.

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