Walmart (WMT 0.26%) has been an essential retailer during the coronavirus pandemic. The company has kept its stores open and has stepped up delivery to keep its customers supplied with the items they need to get by during an extended period of isolation.

But while the chain is selling a lot of food, cleaning supplies, and other essentials, it may not be moving many items that typically fly off its shelves. That could hurt some of its 18,000 suppliers -- two-thirds of which are small and medium-sized companies -- and Walmart is taking action to help them.

The exterior of a Walmart

Walmart is helping its smaller suppliers get access to capital. Image source: Walmart.

What is Walmart doing?

The retail giant wants to make sure its small and medium-sized suppliers have access to capital. To do that, it's taking some bold steps.

"We're making changes to our Supply Chain financing program, which is a program where Walmart and Sam's Club work with national banks to allow qualified suppliers to get payments from us faster," said Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner in a press release. "We're improving the program: by adding dedicated resources to speed up the onboarding process, eliminating an eligibility requirement and adding JPMorgan Chase as a partner (they join existing partners Citibank and Wells Fargo)."

What does this mean?

Getting a loan can be daunting for a small business -- especially one that hasn't needed one before. Walmart is making the process easier and helping its suppliers shortcut the process.

These efforts are crucial and may keep companies that experience a short-term disruption afloat. That's good for those businesses, Walmart, and its customers.