Walmart tries to undercut Amazon with 30-second returns

Wal-mart Stores, Inc. - WMT - Stock Price Today - Zacks

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced new changes to its return policy just in time for the winter holidays.

The procedure involves the purchaser logging the return on the Walmart app and generating a QR code, before taking the item to a store where they scan the code and hand the item to staff on a "fast track" line. In addition, according to a study by InfoScout, Walmart Pay now ranks as the No. 2 mobile wallet, despite launching chainwide only 16 months ago, and now offers customers instant access to their Walmart credit card.

Eckert said customers using the service will start the return process through Wal-Mart's mobile app by selecting items from their purchase histories.

Further, the company said it would add 1,000 online grocery locations in Walmart U.S. "But we also know returning an item and waiting for a refund, especially for a product purchased at Walmart.com online, isn't always seamless". Consumers who shop third-party sellers on Walmart.com will have to wait a bit longer, as the mass merchant is still trying to determine how to make that work.

Walmart has emphasized ecommerce growth in recent years amid a challenging brick-and-mortar retail environment and stiff competition from Amazon and other digital retailers. For example, if a bulky item is ordered and a customer wants to return it, Walmart can decide to allow the product to be kept while still issuing a refund. The company is ready to expose the Mobile Express Returns.

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Wal-Mart, which is battling Amazon for market share, has been investing in its online business and letting customers pick up online orders at its 4,700-plus stores.

Express lanes at customer service already exist, as they were out their earlier in the year to help speed up its pharmacy and money service clients. On average, analysts forecast that Wal-Mart Stores will post $4.35 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Walmart boasts that it has over 4,700 retail stores and that 90% of Americans live near one, making the return process as easy as walking into a physical store to buy an item in the first place. To increase its dominance, Wal-Mart offers a click-and-pickup grocery service, with its store employees speeding customers along by loading their cars.

The move comes at the same time that the company's biggest ecommerce rival, Amazon, has made similar inroads in this venture, revealing that shoppers can drop some of their returns off direct to Kohl's department stores and have them packed and shipped free for return.

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