Walmart is rolling out a new in-store returns service called Mobile Express Returns, which will allow people who make purchases online and then want to return the merchandise, to do so by logging them on the Walmart app, generating a QR code for the transaction, and then walking into a physical Walmart store to return or exchange the items quickly.
In case of certain bulky items, customers can simply keep them and still get a refund, a programme it referred to as ''keep it'' in an interview last week.
Mobile Express Returns is set for November launch and would be available at all of Walmart's 4,700 stores in the US. The service will be expanded in 2018 to cover third-party sellers on Walmart.com's online marketplace. But TechCrunch's Ingrid Lunden reports that Walmart had confirmed to her that there are ''no plans'' to add Jet.com, an Amazon-style marketplace acquired by Walmart for $3 billion last year, to that service. (See: Wal-Mart Stores completes $3 bn acquisition of online discount retail start-up Jet.com)
The service will not be the first time that Walmart has tried to accept returns for online items in stores. However, Daniel Eckert, SVP, WalmartServices and Digital Acceleration, Walmart US, said that this will be a new system that will work much faster.
With the new system, Walmart will also be able to cut the average time it takes to process a return from about 5 minutes to 30 seconds.
''We recognise that saving time is the new currency for customers, as much as saving money,'' Eckert said in an interview.
According to commentators, the move comes as the latest by Amazon to improve its online shopping experience to counter Amazon.com Inc, which has a flexible return policy.
According to Optro Inc, which works for Jet.com, about a third of items ordered online are returned, as against only 8 per cent of things bought in physical stores, according to Optoro Inc, which works with Jet.com to process returns.