If you are a Walmart supplier and you are not currently using Walmart Luminate, you will be soon!
Walmart has set a goal to have all its suppliers on Luminate by March 2024. While this date is subject to change, it is important for all Walmart suppliers to educate themselves on the new system and understand why Walmart is making the switch.
As we will explore in this post, Walmart is introducing Luminate to improve reporting, provide more information for suppliers, and enhance the tools used for forecasting.
What Is Walmart Luminate?
Walmart Luminate is the latest reporting system for Walmart US suppliers that provides sales data (in-store and online pickup and delivery) as well as customer shopping insights. Walmart Luminate is not replacing Walmart’s Retail Link; it is simply replacing the Decision Support System (DSS) in Retail Link.
Walmart suppliers can still access Retail Link for applications, communications, and other tools outside of sales reporting.
Why Is Walmart Switching from DSS to Luminate?
With growth comes change, and as Walmart continues to grow its business, technology (along with customer shopping demands) continues to change. Providing better tools for suppliers to understand the Walmart customer and improve performance is a priority for Walmart.
Here’s a brief breakdown of why Walmart moved to Luminate given the changes in customer behaviors:
The Beginning: Retail Link
When Walmart first launched Retail Link back in 1997, it set the bar for sales reporting. Walmart suppliers had unprecedented online access to sales data. Retail Link provided point-of-sale numbers to allow suppliers to view sales by store and better forecast and replenish. As Retail Link grew, more tools were added to better serve suppliers.
Decision Support System (DSS)
The Decision Support System is not only a highly-used tool in Retail Link, but the core of why Walmart made the switch to Luminate. DSS gives suppliers the data they need to track performance with Walmart, such as sales reporting, inventory reports, shopping trends, inventory levels, out-of-stock merchandise, and other performance tracking information.
Like any technology, the DSS tool in Retail Link was revolutionary at the time. However, as changes came about with how consumers shop and new performance demands, next-level reporting became a necessity.
The Introduction of Luminate
Why move from DSS to Luminate? A major factor in the change is sales happening outside of the Decision Support System’s ability to track.
Walmart has made great progress in serving customers who prefer online purchases for pickup or delivery. Although these sales are up almost 30% for Walmart, the metrics could not be tracked through DSS. Luminate provides these metrics while also generating reports faster than its predecessor.
What’s New in Walmart Luminate?
Luminate brings more tools and data insights to Walmart suppliers than currently provided in DSS. Some of the new features include:
Omnichannel Tracking and Analytics
For the first time, Walmart suppliers will have access to an item’s complete supply chain journey as Walmart Luminate provides sales reporting for the complete omnichannel experience.
Along with all PO (purchase order) data, suppliers can track an item’s journey from the DC (distribution center) completely through the point of sale, no matter if the item is sold in the store or through online pickup and delivery.
This new reporting provides the supplier with better insights into the changing consumer purchase journey and how items perform across multiple channels.
Special Category Advisor Feeds
Luminate does more than provide information about the individual supplier; it provides detailed insights and trends for the entire category. These special reports are excellent resources for developing planning strategies between the supplier and category manager.
Luminate also provides modular data reports, which include detailed data about on-shelf placements across stores.
Customer Trend Analysis
As Walmart’s digital consumers continue to grow, understanding their habits is essential to all suppliers. With Luminate, suppliers can quickly research their online customers’ demographic data, order history, keywords they use to search, items bought in combinations, and more. This data helps suppliers to make more informed decisions for their future marketing and product development (both in-store and online).
Many Walmart suppliers transfer their DSS data into a third-party platform for formatting and analyzing. When doing this in Retail Link, there is no automated way to transfer the data. The Charter version of Luminate includes an API key to feed the data to an external platform.
How Much Does Walmart Charge for Luminate?
The cost of Luminate for Walmart suppliers depends on which version of Luminate the supplier chooses and how much business they do with Walmart. There are currently two versions of Luminate:
1. Luminate Basic
Luminate Basic is free for Walmart suppliers. Although Luminate Basic does not include all the features of the paid version, many of these features will still be accessible in Retail Link (i.e., OTIF scorecard and SQEP dashboard).
2. Luminate Charter
Luminate Charter provides all the data of the Basic version with new features (i.e., online pickup and delivery data). As of this publishing, Walmart is charging suppliers a fee based on a small percentage of sales for Luminate Charter. Contact Walmart Luminate for updates or quotes specific to your business.
Walmart Luminate’s 3 Modules
In developing Walmart Luminate, the goal was to provide Walmart suppliers with reporting beyond the offerings of DSS. The new Luminate reporting gives Walmart suppliers access to not only sales and performance data but also to enhanced customer insights.
This new reporting is structured into three modules: Channel Performance, Shopper Behavior, and Customer Perception.
1. Channel Performance
Much like Retail Link’s DSS, the Channel Performance module gives Walmart suppliers sales data, On Time In Full reports, and inventory numbers. What makes this module an improvement in Luminate is suppliers will also receive metrics for online pickup and delivery. This information is not available in Retail Link. With the Channel Performance enhancements in Luminate, suppliers can monitor item performance across multiple channels.
2. Shopper Behavior
Related to Channel Performance is the ability to monitor shopper behavior. The Shopper Behavior module allows suppliers to analyze the changing customer shopping habits. Adjustments can be made faster and with more precise data to correspond to consumer demand. The Shopper Behavior module is currently only available with Luminate Charter.
3. Customer Perception
The Customer Perception module drives research for improved performance and sales. Suppliers use this module to conduct research with real Walmart customers to plan for future growth. The Customer Perception module is currently only available with Luminate Charter.
What Should Walmart Suppliers Do Before DSS Disappears?
As a Walmart supplier, if you are still using DSS and have not made the switch to Luminate yet, there are a few things to consider as you prepare:
Evaluate Current DSS Reports
Take time to review the DSS reports you regularly run. Determine which you actually need and use. Evaluate these reports and what action you take with the data. If you don’t really use the information from a report, you may not need to continue using it in Luminate. Determine which ones need to be built in Luminate, then work on migrating all reporting.
As soon as you have access to Luminate Basic, begin running your reports through it to adjust from DSS. Use DSS for as long as it is available to compare those DSS reports with the reports generated in Luminate. Keep in mind that there are a lot of changes from DSS to Luminate. Many columns have different names. Some DSS reports will have to be separated into two or more reports. Some DSS reports (PO Data) will not exist in Luminate. Suppliers will get need to retrieve PO data from NOVA.
Schedule Supplier Performance Scorecard YOY
The Supplier Performance Scorecard Year Over Year can be run only once a year, the first week in February. You’ll find it in Retail Link under Scorecards and Summaries. Schedule it now to run at that time, because you have only a one-week window in which to run it.
How 8th & Walton Can Help
While moving from Retail Link’s DSS to Luminate is a change of tools, the data retrieved is the same. How to format, interpret, analyze, and make decisions from the data still requires seasoned analysts with years of experience working for Walmart. That’s where your team at 8th & Walton is a huge resource during times of transition.
Our advisors have supported Walmart suppliers through the launches of On Time In Full (OTIF), Supplier Quality Excellence Program (SQEP), Item 360, and other programs. As DSS begins to phase out and your team begins learning Walmart Luminate, 8th & Walton will be a resource for questions and support. Simply submit the short form below to learn more.
Launching new tools, processes, and initiatives to improve the supply chain is standard practice for Walmart. Getting a grasp on Walmart Luminate today will only serve suppliers better as updates and additions follow in the years to come.
As you have questions about Luminate, Walmart’s supply chain expectations, or other concerns about your business, asking the advisors at 8th & Walton is absolutely free. To set up a one-on-one consultation about your Walmart issue, simply submit this form: