A cautionary tale for Walmart buyers, suppliers

Walmart pulled a dietary supplement from its Web site this week following a report by USA Today that called into question the product’s safety and the track record of the supplier.
The product in question was a pre-workout supplement called Craze from supplier Matt Cahill who USA Today said has a history of putting risky supplements on the market. Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee said the product was pulled to, “allow us time to look further into not only the safety of the product, but also the integrity of the supplier.”

That raises the question of why the product's safety and the supplier’s integrity weren’t examined more thoroughly before the item was made available online. Walmart puts new products and suppliers through all sorts of vetting processes when it comes to putting products on the shelves of physical stores because real estate is limited and every inch of shelf space needs to be productive. Conversely, no such physical constraints exist online so expanding the breadth of assortment is not only possible it is a priority for Walmart.com.

Few categories have the breadth of assortment as nutritional supplements, but the industry also has lax regulation which allows some suppliers to get very inventive with product formulations and inferred claims and possible benefits. Nevertheless, after reading the USA Today piece you will wonder how Craze ever found its way on to Walmart’s Web site and what new protocols related to the new item introduction process may result from the incident.

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