Earlier last year, we covered the start of Walmart’s efforts to promote American products, manufacturers, and suppliers. So far, it hasn’t been easy for the world's largest retailer: A recent Reuters article detailed some of the hurdles facing the company in its efforts to encourage domestic growth.
To that end, Walmart held its first ever "Made in USA Open Call" event at its home offices in Bentonville, Arkansas, early last week. According to Walmart’s press release, the event marked the first time the retailer’s buyers and suppliers have been able to sit down together and work on generating interest in American-made goods.
Over 500 manufacturers were given an opportunity to pitch their products directly to the mega-store's supply chain. Everything from sleeping bags and socks, to TV wall mounts and trash bags were on display. The single uniting factor was that all of them were manufactured in the Unites States.
Before the event took place, Bill Simon, President and CEO of Walmart U.S., stated that, “By hosting the open call, we will be able to discover new products that we didn’t know were out there. This is not a program or a promotion—this is economics.”
You can judge the worth of the open call for yourself: A simulcast recording of the general session, held prior to the supplier meeting, can be viewed in full on the company's site.
On the one hand, improved energy efficiency, developments in automated manufacturing, and rising wages overseas have already kickstarted a new wave of onshoring—with or without Walmart's help.
But on the other hand, Walmart could certainly do with a bit of image polishing. Proactively supporting American industry could help the company take a big step away from its reputation—in some circles—as a destroyer of small businesses and an organization that fails to fairly compensate its employees.
With a program in place that could support domestic manufacturers and consumers alike, it’s hard not to hope that the Made in USA campaign is a success.
Hero image: Walmart Corporate (CC BY 2.0)