In a move that breaks from its traditional D2C roots, SmileDirectClub announced a partnership with Walmart this week to sell a new lineup of oral care products that will be available at Walmart stores across the United States and online.
 
It is another move by the direct-to-consumer brand, which was founded in 2014, to not only expand its retail presence, but also grow its product line and overall business. SmileDirectClub has sold accessories for some time, but the announcement with Walmart is its largest expansion so far.
 
While the new product line is exclusive to Walmart, this is not SmileDirectClub’s first retail partnership. The brand announced a partnership in April 2019 to open 1,000 SmileShops inside CVS stores across the U.S. SmileDirectClub’s partnership with Walmart comes as a move to keep up with competitors, such as Quip, which announced a dental insurance alternative, and smaller startups like Candid and Uniform Teeth. SmileDirectClub has more than 750,00 customers and reached a $3.2 billion valuation before it went public, with $432.2 million in revenue in 2018.
 
“SmileDirectClub's debut of oral care products in mass retail extends our mission to be the consumer's first resource for safe, affordable, and convenient oral care solutions," Josh Chapman, Chief Global Brand Officer of SmileDirectClub, said in a release. “Partnering with Walmart to introduce our products reinforces our shared commitment to providing premium quality products at a price worth smiling about.”
 
When asked why the brand chose Walmart, SmileDirectClub said Walmart was the “ideal retailer” because of SmileDirectClub’s “mission of democratization of healthcare.” Furthermore, as Walmart looks to keep up with customer needs in a variety of ways, the partnership with SmileDirectClub aligns with previous DTC partnerships and the brand’s growing healthcare presence. Walmart just opened “Walmart Health” center in September 2019, which features an array of primary medical services, including dental care.
 
"We don't believe you should have to sacrifice your budget for your smile, so we are excited that SmileDirectClub is launching new smile-enhancing products exclusively available at Walmart,” Shawn Townzen, Vice President of Walmart Personal Care, said in the release.
 
Walmart is no stranger to DTC brands. The retail giant has a growing portfolio which includes several clothing brands such as Bonobos, which ended up being acquired by Walmart in 2017.
 
For SmileDirectClub, the brand is looking to adopt an omnichannel strategy – a strategy many other DTC brands have pursued. While direct-to-consumer brands may have a more authentic relationship with customers, it is no longer innovative to start a company with a single product offering and expect success. For example, even Warby Parker recently debuted its own contact lens brand.
 
After SmileDirectClub announced the partnership launch this week, shares surged 29 percent – the largest intraday gain for the company since its initial public offering in September.
 
“We’re making a premium hard-to-find custom product,” Chapman said. “From Day 1, this is our dream to do it, and it’s taking us a while cause we wanted to do it right.”

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