What Is Walmart Rollback & How Can Suppliers Prepare for It?

Last updated on September 13th, 2023

Written by Ken Zhou

Merchants from various eCommerce platforms like Amazon or Walmart Marketplace encounter inevitable hurdles within these dynamic ecosystems. One of these challenges many Walmart sellers face is dealing with Walmart rollbacks. But what is Walmart rollback, and how exactly does it affect the marketplace’s sellers and suppliers? 

This article delves into the mechanics of a Walmart rollback strategy and how you can effectively leverage it to attract customers and drive sales.

Let’s begin by deepening our understanding of what Walmart rollbacks are, how they work, and their purpose in the digital marketplace.

What is Walmart rollback?

Indicative in its name, Walmart rollback refers to a temporary price reduction on products in physical stores and on the Walmart website. To differentiate them from regular items, these rollback deals contain a tag showcasing each product's current and previous prices.

screenshot of the Walmart website showing rollback items highlighted in red, with their rollback tags highlighted in yellow

How do rollbacks work?

Before implementing rollback promotions, a Walmart store makes an announcement to invite interested customers and patrons. During the promotions, reductions may go as low as 50% of the item’s original price, determined through an agreement between Walmart and the suppliers. 

Popular rollback products include categories such as electronics and appliances, beauty products, clothing, toys, groceries, outdoor gear, etc.

Does it work on online purchases?

To attract a larger audience, Walmart also offers price rollbacks for online purchases. The platform has an entire page dedicated to Walmart rollback online shoppers (typically named “Rollbacks” or “Rollback Specials”) to help them easily find lower-priced products.

Walmart Rollback vs. Clearance and Sales

Due to the price reduction, many confuse a Walmart rollback with a sale or clearance. While these pricing strategies closely resemble each other, rollbacks differ vastly from the other two. 

The table below highlights the differences between these strategies.

Walmart Rollback
  • Is item-specific, particularly for in-demand products, and uses a fixed price pointTypically longer than sales and clearances
  • Don’t follow a specific schedule or theme but can be part of limited-time promotions or special events
  • Walmart Sale
  • Covers a broader range of items and promotions, such as rollbacks, bundles, “buy one get one” deals, etc. 
  • Offers percentage discounts as price reductions and can be theme-specific (holidays, seasons, etc.) 
  • Items typically don’t have specific tags
  • Walmart Clearance
  • Used to clear out inventory (discontinued items, excess inventory, or products nearing expiration) 
  • Uses percentage discounts usually more significant than sales and rollbacks
  • Items have specific tags
  • Why does Walmart offer rollbacks?

    For over 60 years of business, Walmart has continuously developed ways to gain new patrons and keep loyal customers interested in its products and services. One of these strategies is the “Every Day Low Prices” campaign that they implemented in 1974.

    The campaign aims to help customers save money, allowing them to shop for cost-effective products in their daily purchases. Over time, this strategy has created a brand image for the marketplace that depicts accessibility and affordability, developing loyalty and trust within Walmart’s vast customer base.

    In the same vein, the implementation of Walmart rollbacks aims at producing similar results. The origins of this pricing strategy can be traced back to the EDLP campaign. Serving as extensions of the EDLP philosophy, Walmart rollbacks offer customers even more noticeable savings and lower prices on selected products.

    The positive reception of price rollbacks gives Walmart a strong competitive advantage against its fellow brick-and-mortar retailers and eCommerce competitors. These effectively attract swaths of customers and significantly boost overall sales

    Besides increasing customers and profit, rollbacks can be a great way to let go of certain inventory items without wasting them.

    When do Walmart rollbacks occur, and how long do they last?

    Walmart marketplace rollbacks may happen randomly. However, it's worth noting that rollbacks may also be integrated into other Walmart promotions so customers can somewhat predict when they occur. To seamlessly plan these events, Walmart partners with participating retailers and sellers before running promotions.

    The exact timing and frequency of this pricing strategy will depend on several factors, such as the following:

    • Seasonal promotions - Walmart may offer rollbacks during seasons and holidays like Christmas, Halloween, summer, Easter, Thanksgiving, and back-to-school. 
    • Special events - Rollbacks may also occur during events like Walmart anniversaries or promotional events.
    • Product launches - Walmart may use the rollback pricing strategy to introduce, feature, and garner hype and attention toward a new product line or brand. 
    • Clearances - To avoid product wastage and solve inventory issues like overstocking, Walmart may offer rollbacks for items being phased out, discontinued, or overstocked. 

    The rollback period may last for weeks or months, depending on the specific promotion and product category, before the marketplace resets the item to its normal price.

    Some rollback items may be part of short-term campaigns, running for a week or two, while others could extend longer, especially for larger product categories.

    closeup shot of business people with their laptops and notebooks open while they are preparing

    Source: Photo by Armin  Rimoldi from Pexels.com

    Walmart Rollback Prep 101: How Suppliers Can Prepare

    Walmart allows all on-site and online sellers to participate during rollback events. While any supplier is encouraged to partake in such promotional activities, not all sellers are well-versed during the Walmart rollback season. How can you prepare for rollbacks?

    Observe these four guidelines to ensure a successful Walmart rollback run. 

    Have Regular and Clear Communication with Walmart.

    Being in constant and clear communication with the platform ensures that suppliers and sellers are sufficiently informed about all details regarding the rollback promotion, including the duration, timing, and expectations for the rollback. It clarifies issues and solves any misunderstandings before the promotion rollout. 

    Choose Your Products, Prices, and Promotional Packaging Wisely.

    Once you understand and confirm the promotional details, the next step is to select items you wish to feature during the rollback. Walmart usually highlights popular and in-demand products from participating retailers and avoids placing new items on the rollback roster. 

    Choosing the ideal lower price for each participating item is also necessary. Negotiating competitive prices with Walmart to ensure your store maintains profitability while catering to your audience’s demands and expectations is crucial.

    Most importantly, your product’s packaging will determine whether or not shoppers will place your item in their shopping carts. Ensure it catches buyers' attention and highlights essential details such as the rollback price.

    Plan Your Inventory.

    Preparing your products for the rollback is one thing; ensuring you have enough of them is another. Before the rollback rollout, ensure you have sufficient inventory items to cover anticipated demand during the entire rollback period. 

    Suppliers and sellers must evaluate their current inventory levels and production capacity to meet potential increased demand during the rollback. Coordinating with your production and logistics teams to ensure the availability of your products is also a necessary task to perform beforehand.

    Keep Tabs on Your Performance. 

    During the rollback period, monitor how your products and promotions are faring. Is your pricing strategy effective, or did it turn away potential customers? Are there any adjustments you can make to ensure optimum results?

    Observing product performance during the rollback period informs you of your strong points and blind spots. This information can help you assess the promotion’s impact on your sales and brand visibility.

    But your assessment should not stop when the promotion ends. After the rollback, gather the platform’s and customers’ feedback to optimize for future strategies and collaborations.

    Let Seller Interactive’s Experts Handle Your Walmart Stores During Rollback Season

    Suppliers can tap into a powerful promotional tool to grow their business by understanding the essence of Walmart rollbacks and aligning with its commitment to affordability.

    Hopefully, this article has given you confidence and readiness for your next Walmart rollback run. If that’s not enough, eCommerce experts from Seller Interactive are always here to help!

    Contact our professionals today, and let them bring your Walmart store to success!

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