Walmart Pallet Requirements

Walmart is the largest retailer in the world, with a higher yearly revenue than Amazon. The chain is one of the biggest customers that any vendor of consumer packaged goods can work with. For smaller vendors, a distribution contract with Walmart is a sign that they’ve become a major brand.

Walmart has considerable power to shape the retail market and the fate of consumer packaged goods and consumer durable manufacturers. That market power allows Walmart to require that vendors adhere to exacting pallet guidelines for incoming shipments. Vendors will want to hew closely to Walmart’s pallet requirements, as the retailer is a make-or-break customer.

General Walmart Pallet Requirements

Walmart’s preferred pallet is a grade A, 40 by 48-inch GMA hardwood pallet or pooled pallet from iGPS, IFCO, CHEP, or PECO. Effectively, Walmart expects vendors who aren’t using the above suppliers to use what are informally known as “club grade” or “AAA” pallets. These should be made of sound material, free of knots and clean sawn, and made of lumber from either Group III or IV hardwood tree species.

Group III and group IV hardwoods are durable, and a durable pallet helps to reduce product damage during transportation. This goal is reflected in the other requirements Walmart outlines for pallets shipped to their distribution centers. The complete list of Walmart’s pallet requirement criteria is below:

  1. A pallet must not have missing or broken boards on its top or bottom.
  2. Stringers cannot be patched. Patches using additional boards or metal repair plates are unacceptable.
  3. Stringers must not be broken or have cracks visible from three sides and longer than a single inch. Cracks from aging that aren’t visible from three sides and don’t go through the board are acceptable.
  4. Pallets should be clean and odor-free without debris and stains. Discoloration due to aging and wear is acceptable.
  5. Cracks on top or bottom boards wider than ⅛-inch wide and 15 inches in length are unacceptable.
  6. A pallet must be free of splinters greater than three inches in length.
  7. No tapered breaks with a depth greater than one inch along a ten-inch or longer run.
  8. Nails cannot exceed ⅛-inch exposure from the surface of the wood at either the tip or head. Pallets will only be rejected if the board between a nail head and stringer has been destroyed and there is no way to drive a nail back into the board.
  9. No partial footings, which occur when ¼-inch of a stringer board’s width or length directly abutting a bottom board is missing or nail shanks are exposed.

The goal of these requirements is to keep pallets in good repair to prevent product damage in the supply chain. This is also clear in Walmart’s guidelines for packing pallets. The total height of the loaded pallet should not exceed 96 inches (eight feet in total) and pallets that will be shipped out from Walmart’s distribution centers should not exceed 84 inches in height. Pallet overhang of any sort is not acceptable as it reduces the overall compression strength of the load, making it more likely that products will be crushed.

Walmart does allow the use of alternative pallet materials as long as they have been approved by Walmart Inbound Transportation. One approved alternative pallet material, plastic, is particularly good at preventing product damage and many of the other issues caused by the use of traditional wood pallets. 

Why Plastic Pallets Are the Best Pallets for Walmart Vendors

Plastic pallets reduce or eliminate most of the issues that Walmart’s pallet requirements attempt to address, like splinters, debris, contamination, employee injury, and product damage. High-quality HDPE plastic pallets like those available through iGPS’ plastic pallet pooling program offer:

Unibody design Plastic pallets have a molded, unitized construction without fasteners like nails. The deck has no boards that can come loose or break. The absence of product puncturing splinters removes another source of product damage from the supply chain.
Moisture resistant Plastic, unlike wood, doesn’t absorb water and other liquids. As a result, plastic pallets won’t retain odors or spills and are resistant to mold and mildew growth.
High load capacity Wood block pallets in good repair top out at a maximum load of 4,800 pounds and their load-bearing capacity degrades with use and age. High-quality plastic pallets, such as iGPS pallets, are rated to support a 30,000-pound static load and a 5,000-pound dynamic load.
Reduced debris Plastic pallets keep distribution centers and loading docks cleaner as they don’t leave wood splinters, dust, nails, and other debris behind.
Long useful lifespan An iGPS plastic pallet can make 100 trips through the supply chain before needing replacement, compared to a stringer pallet’s three to five trips and a block pallet’s twenty trips.
Lightweight construction iGPS plastic pallets weigh less than 50 pounds, while a wood block pallet can weigh as much as 80 pounds depending on its moisture content and age. A lighter pallet weight reduces wear and tear on equipment, lowers fuel consumption during transportation, and cuts greenhouse gas emissions.

Plastic pallets are simply stronger, more hygienic, and more environmentally friendly than their wood equivalent. Heavy duty plastic pallets from iGPS easily meet Walmart pallet requirements as well as the pallet guidelines of virtually all other major retailers.

With iGPS plastic pallets, vendors can easily meet Walmart pallet requirements without the hassle of managing their own pallet inventory. Give our team a call at 1-866-636-6443, emailing a specialist at [email protected], or visiting our contact page.