Business Insider reports that Walmart has just introduced its plans for Mobile Express Returns, “a new program that aims to make returns of online and in-store purchases fast and painless.” The program is set to launch this November, being readily available for orders sold and shipped by Walmart.com. Offering fast in-store returns will help Walmart receive more foot traffic in its stores and compete with its online competitor, Amazon.
Geek Wire indicated that the company is calling it an “industry-first experience” that involves both the Walmart app and the chain’s 4,700 store locations. The process is simplified into two convenient steps:
- First, begin the return process for the chosen transaction/item(s) by using the Walmart app and following the corresponding prompts.
- Second, complete the return at the store by utilizing the Mobile Express Lane at the Customer Service Desk. Access the Walmart app to display the designated QR code to scan with the card reader, and hand over the item to the associate. This will immediately refund the purchase and the customer’s payment account will be credited as soon as the next day. Done and done.
The company claims that this new system will reduce inefficient return times from approximately five minutes to just thirty seconds.
Senior vice president of Walmart Services and Digital Acceleration said in a statement:
“We know that returning an item and waiting for a refund, especially for a product purchased online, isn’t always seamless, so we’ve completely transformed the process for our customers – whether they are shopping in stores or at Walmart.com. By leveraging our physical stores and the Walmart app, we’re changing the returns game in ways that only Walmart can do.”
The store also receives additional benefits by allowing quicker in-store returns for online purchases. On one hand, this process is likely to generate future sales, “as 62% of consumers say they are more likely to shop online if they can return in-store.” On the other hand, simply getting customers back in the door, even just to return their items, may entice them to make additional purchases while they’re there. (Happy Returns found that 25 percent of shoppers making a return buy something else in the process.) Finally, the program will allow more consumer downloads of the Walmart app, which in turn allows the retailer to create sales on the platform.
With this new process, Walmart is attempting to one-up its competitor Amazon, the online retail empire. Walmart dominates the brick-and-mortar side of things, having “stores within 10 miles of approximately 90 percent of the US population.” However, what Amazon lacks in physical locations makes up for it with its online revenue, which generated “53 percent of online sales” in the U.S. last year.
Due to the massive shift in popularity and success of e-commerce, physical retail locations have lost a lot of foot traffic, are unable to maintain competitive sale prices, and face multiple store closures. An estimated “8,600 retail stores could close this year in the U.S. — more than the previous two years combined,” stated brokerage firm Credit Suisse.
In response to this, many brick-and-mortar retailers have started to use “omnichannel fulfillment methods” in order to gain leverage in the competition. Because their shopping experience is so versatile, from online to in-store, they gain an upper hand. Part of their method is offering more cheap and convenient delivery options for online shoppers, organizing deliveries for customers, and offering online pick-ups to draw customers into the store.
Detroit News pointed out that come December with Walmart’s new returns policy, some items that are no longer profitable won’t need to be returned. This includes “goods that Walmart would discard anyway, like opened makeup, bruised perishable goods, or perhaps a bottle of floor cleaner damaged during delivery.”
Featured image via Flickr/Walmart Corporate