Walmart Announces Supplier Bot Management

5 min read

Walmart Announces Supplier Bot Management

Walmart has recently announced that they are allowing token-based access for new and existing bot accounts on Retail Link. This new token system allows for bot access through accounts separate from the regular Retail Link user accounts. 

What Are Bots?

Bots, or Robotic Process Automation (RPA) softwares, are tools used to imitate clicking behavior of a user for a program or software. Oftentimes they need to be recalibrated anytime the space/software in which they are operating gets updated or changed in any way. Walmart's prior reluctance to encourage the use of bots for their suppliers was related to this and complications resulting from this limitation.

This change came about as a result of Walmart's recent push for multi-factor authentication (MFA) on Retail Link. Most suppliers' bot accounts were not capable of logging in with the MFA that Walmart wanted to institute for greater security. This token process is likely Walmart's solution to this problem, as it allows for the bot accounts to be secure without too much manual intervention. 

Using Bots in Retail Link (Supplier Bot Management)

How to Create a Bot Account

Walmart encourages the creation of a new company domain email address for the bot account. Walmart also recommends, as preparation for generating bot accounts, creating a nomenclature for bot User ID names so as to make reporting and user management as tidy as possible.

The account administrators on a supplier's Retail Link have the ability to create a bot account from User Management. From there, select the ADD USER button in the top right corner. The fields for this submission are:

  • First Name

  • Last Name

  • Email

  • Phone Number

  • Employee Type

  • Employee Position

  • Roles

There is also a box to be checked to indicate that the user account is a bot, which, obviously, is key. After this has all been filled in, select the same ADD USER button to officially add the account.

NOTE: user IDs belonging to current users cannot be changed to bot accounts. 

How to Monitor a Bot Account

Within User Management, you can see all of your "Active" users alongside, in different tabs, the "Pending Requests" and "Declined" accounts. Once the bot account is approved it will appear in the Active list, which is filterable by "Status," "Name," and "Username." 

Bot Tokens

Within the account you can see the "Token Generation Date" and the "Token Expiry Date," as well as the Bot Token itself. Every time a bot account logs into Retail Link it must provide a Bot Token as well as its username and password.

Bot Tokens expire after 60 days, but regular reminders will be sent to the bot users to give plenty of time to create a new token. 

How Do I Generate and Copy a Bot Token?

Under the Basic Information section of a user, at the very bottom of the page, is the "Bot Token" itself, which needs to be copied and stored for logging in to the account on Retail Link.

When a token approaches its expiry date, click on the "Generate Bot Token" button also in the top right corner. A green ribbon along the top will appear when a new token has been generated successfully. Once it is generated, click the icon next to the token to copy it and save it for logging into Retail Link from the bot account itself. 

How Do I Log into Retail Link from a Bot Account? 

NOTE: Once bot accounts have been established and logged into, a person will not be able to use the bot account to log into Retail Link without special software generated or provided by your automation partners.

To log in to a bot user account, use the Bot Token mentioned above associated with that bot account. The token must be inserted and passed in the login request header of code when logging in.

For Automation Engineers, to successfully authenticate into Retail Link, you will need to modify your network requests to add the following token: 'x-bot-token: <bot-token>'.

The images below are the ones provided by Walmart as an example:

The curl request below is an example of a properly formed network request:

bot-curl (1).png

If your request is successful, you will receive a response similar to the sample below.

bot-response (1).png

Inserting the token into the header should allow for a successful login to the bot account. The sample response will confirm that the account has been logged into successfully. 

Final Points

This update means not only that Walmart's position on bots has changed but that they're making it easier to register bot accounts compared to the previous process. Walmart reserves the right to change the login process at any time via the EULA (Retail Link User Agreement).

On June 7, 2023, this new program will launch and the current exception status will expire. At that time, according to Walmart, "Bot automations will not work on individual user accounts."

It appears that Walmart would rather be aware of the bot accounts that are out there (i.e. who they belong to) and regulate them than continue to maintain a plainly negative stance toward them. 

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Written by Richie Gay

About Richie Gay

Before SupplyPike, Richie spent 20 years in retail, including 5 years at the Walmart and Sam's home offices in Merchandising and eCommerce roles.

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