Ever wait on line at a Walmart service desk to return an online purchase? Chances are you’re still there.
But the discounter, as part of its all-out offensive on Amazon’s e-commerce lead, has a new trick up its digital sleeve designed to reduce wait time and better leverage its click-and-mortar advantage.
Starting in early November Walmart will institute a simplified, app-based returns process called Mobile Express Returns that will be available at all 4,700-plus stores. Customers can initiate the return at home via their smartphones and complete the process at a dedicated Mobile Express lane at their local store’s service desk in as little as 30 seconds, the retailer said.
Once there, they scan a QR code on a card reader using their phone’s Walmart app and hand over the item. Refunds will be credited to the customer's payment account as soon as the next day, although beginning as early as December select household items will be refunded instantly, without returning them to the store.
Mobile Express Returns will initially be limited to items sold and shipped by Walmart.com, but will be extended to in-store purchases by early next year. The company will also be looking to streamline the process for online purchases from third-party sellers.
“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,” said Daniel Eckert, senior VP, Walmart services and digital acceleration. “By leveraging our physical stores and the Walmart app, we’re changing the returns game in ways that only Walmart can do.”
At the same time it’s streamlining the returns process, the chain is making it easier to buy stuff online. Last week Walmart went live with its Google Express partnership, which allows customers to purchase 2 million items from its website by barking their orders into a Google Home speaker or a mobile device.
To sweeten the pot, the chain is offering up to $25 off an order for customers who buy a Google Home or Home Mini from them, and link their Walmart account to Google Express.