Understanding Shipping to Walmart: Collect vs. Prepaid

May 13, 2024

Understanding Shipping to Walmart: Collect vs. Prepaid

When shipping products to Walmart, one of the critical decisions you’ll need to make is whether to opt for a “Collect” or “Prepaid” shipping method. Both options have their unique advantages and challenges. Here, we will explore the differences between the two, helping you make an informed decision that aligns with your business needs.

What is Collect Shipping?

Collect shipping, also known as “Freight Collect,” means that Walmart will pay for the shipping costs directly to the carrier. The carrier bills Walmart, not your company, upon delivery of the goods.

Pros of Collect Shipping:

  1. Reduced Initial Costs: As a supplier, you do not have to pay the freight charges upfront. This can help manage your cash flow better, especially beneficial for small businesses or startups.
  2. Simplified Billing Process: Since Walmart handles the freight payment, you won’t have to deal with the complexities of freight invoices, which simplifies your billing process.
  3. Volume Shipping Discounts: Walmart, due to its vast shipping volume, often secures lower rates from carriers, which can indirectly benefit your pricing structure with Walmart.

Cons of Collect Shipping:

  1. Less Control Over Shipping: Since Walmart arranges the shipping, you have limited control over the carriers and the timing of the deliveries.
  2. Dependence on Walmart’s Terms: You are subject to Walmart’s logistical demands and schedules, which might not always align with your production cycles or inventory turnover.

What is Prepaid Shipping?

In prepaid shipping, you, the supplier, are responsible for all freight charges. You pay the carrier directly, and these costs are typically reflected in the product pricing.

Pros of Prepaid Shipping:

  1. Complete Control Over Logistics: You have full control over the choice of carrier, shipping routes, and delivery schedules, ensuring that logistics align with your business operations.
  2. Potential for Freight Savings: If you have negotiated good rates with your carriers or if you consolidate shipments effectively, you can potentially save on freight costs.
  3. Increased Visibility: Handling your own shipping increases the visibility and tracking of the shipment, which can improve inventory management and customer service.

Cons of Prepaid Shipping:

  1. Higher Initial Costs: You must pay for shipping costs upfront, which can be a significant burden, especially for smaller or less financially flexible suppliers.
  2. Complexity in Cost Management: Managing logistics and shipping costs requires a sophisticated understanding of freight management, which can be resource-intensive.
  3. Risk of Overpaying: Without the extensive shipping volume that companies like Walmart have, you might end up paying higher rates, which can erode your margins.


Choosing between Collect and Prepaid shipping when dealing with Walmart depends largely on your company’s financial health, logistical capabilities, and strategic business goals. If preserving cash flow is crucial and you are willing to cede some control over logistics, Collect shipping might be the right choice. Conversely, if you prefer having control over the shipping process and potentially saving on logistics by optimizing operations, Prepaid shipping could be more advantageous.

In the end, the decision should align with your broader business strategy and operational strengths. Understanding both options thoroughly allows for a more tailored approach to one of the largest retail chains in the world, ensuring a partnership that is beneficial not just logistically but also financially.