Before approaching Walmart (and any other retailer) to become a supplier, a good amount of pre-work is required. The supplier application process requests information about the company in addition to the product line itself.
One piece of the application process that is growing across retailers is the WERCS assessment. Not only is the WERCS assessment being requested by more retailers, but it is expanding across the number of items needing it before making it to the retail shelf.
What Is WERCS?
WERCS is an acronym that stands for Worldwide Environmental Regulatory Compliance Solutions. Manufacturers submit regulatory information to WERCS for certification.
This information allows retailers to understand requirements for shipping, handling, storing, and disposing of WERC certified products. It also aids in a retailer’s sustainability goals and compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations.
What Products Require a WERCS Assessment?
Specific items requiring a WERCS assessment can vary by retailer and even local ordinances. It’s always best to check with the retailer before setting up your item for sale.
As a general rule, WERCS assessments are required on all products that are or contain:
Again, it is important to check with the retailer about a specific item. Many have strict guidelines around the four categories listed above and define them even further. For example, Walmart gives suppliers in-depth definitions of these categories to stay compliant. Just for batteries, Walmart specifies:
Battery or battery containing product is defined by Walmart to include any item of merchandise that is a battery or any component of merchandise, including reusable packaging intended to stay in use with the item, containing a battery of any chemistry/type. Only lithium or lead-acid batteries should be submitted to WERCS.
Other retailers require WERCS on items outside these four areas. Some retailers specify WERCS assessments for any items containing copper, while others do not. For general compliance, some retailers require WERCS assessments on all items that feature an ingredient panel. Suppliers should check with retailers early to prevent delays in setting up items for sale.
Which Retailers Require WERCS Certification?
The list of retailers requiring WERCS certification to sell products continues to grow. Big box retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, Target, CVS, and Staples all ask for WERCS certification. Specific items in each store may vary for certification, but each asks for WERCS compliance on many of the products they sell.
WERCS certification is expanding across retailers large and small. Why? Companies are held responsible for the items they manufacture and sell to the public. No company wants to endanger its customers with a hazardous product or risk the potential for a lawsuit due to negligence. WERCS gives the retailer the data it needs to properly transport, store, handle, and dispose of suppliers’ merchandise to keep customers and employees safe.
What Walmart Suppliers Need to Know About WERCS
If a supplier wants to do business with Walmart, the WERCS assessment is a top priority. Products requiring the WERCS assessment should apply for certification before entry into Walmart systems.
Why? All items sold in Walmart stores are assigned an item number. A Walmart Item Number (WIN) can only be created after the WERCS assessment is complete. It is best to register items with WERCS long before the item setup process with Walmart.
If suppliers do not register items with WERCS before trying to set their items up with Walmart, the process can not be completed. Without the approved assessment, the process can be delayed and items may end up being rejected for sale at Walmart.
As previously stated, different retailers can vary on what products they determine require WERCS assessments. Walmart’s guidelines can be more stringent than other stores. For example, Walmart requires a WERCS assessment on all over-the-counter (OTC) oral medications.
Walmart suppliers also need to be aware of product descriptions that can trigger a WERCS request. When entering items in Walmart’s Item 360, the system is looking for keywords to flag the item as being a WERCS-required item (words like “chemical” or “cleaning”). If the product description says “chemical-free” or “no chemical added,” Item 360 only sees the word “chemical” and will trigger a WERCS request.
How to Submit WERCS-Required Products for Assessment
Once a supplier has determined their item requires a WERCS assessment, the next steps are:
- Go to the WERCSmart website to create an account.
- From this page, click Sign In in the upper right-hand corner.
- When the login box pops up, click on Create Company Account.
- Enter the company email address and confirm. This email will be designated as the administrator email for the WERCS account. WERCS will contact the administrator with any questions or outstanding issues.
- Enter the company’s contact information and WERCS administrator’s contact information.
- Click Log In. To begin, use the email address and password just created. A code will be sent to the administrator’s email address to verify the account.
How much does a WERCS assessment cost?
There is an annual fee that is determined by the supplier and the number of items required to set up. See WERCSmart Contact Info and Helpful Links below.
How long does it take to complete a WERCS request?
Turnaround time for a WERCS request is usually around 48 hours. To ensure no delays in the process, suppliers need to fill out all forms completely, accurately, and process payment promptly.
When should a supplier submit a WERCS request?
Without a WERCS assessment on a WERCS required item, setting the item with the retailer can be delayed or rejected. Suppliers should find out if their items will require the assessment from the retailer they are trying to work with and request the WERCS if necessary early.
Will the retailer see the manufacturer’s product formula or ingredients?
No. The supplier’s Confidential Business Information (CBI) is encrypted. The retailer will only see the results and not the item’s full formulation.
What happens when the WERCS assessment is complete?
The information about the item is sent directly to the retailer from WERCS.
WERCSmart Contact Info and Helpful Links
To research and begin the WERCS assessment process, visit these sites:
- Walmart WERCSmart Overview – Information specific to Walmart suppliers about WERCS requirements. This covers which items require WERCS assessments, how Walmart defines each term, setup process, and more.
- WERCSmart Registration – Learn more about WERCS registration and begin the process.
- WERCSmart Subscription Costs – To participate in the WERCSmart program, suppliers pay an annual fee. The fee varies by supplier depending on the type of subscription chosen and the number of items registered per category.
Before approaching Walmart (or any retailer) about selling products in their stores or online, suppliers should visit the retailer’s website and research WERCS requirements. Beginning the WERCS certification process early will save time in the approval process and make setting up items in the retailer’s system easier without this delay.
If you have questions about Walmart WERCS certification and your specific items, our team can help! Contact the Walmart experts at 8th & Walton for a free consultation.