Making a return at Wal-Mart used to take roughly five minutes. But the discount retailer is on a mission to slash that to 30 seconds, said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of Wal-Mart Services and Digital Acceleration.
The company will take its first step in early November – when it rolls out Wal-Mart's Mobile Express Returns, for items sold and shipped by Walmart.com. Store purchases should be integrated into the system by early 2018.
"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," Eckert said in prepared remarks.
Shoppers often consider returning unwanted or defective purchases to stores to be a hassle. And unfortunately, it's often unavoidable. At least 30 percent of all products ordered online are returned, compared to an average of 9 percent of in-store purchases, according to online retail consultant Invesp.
For Wal-Mart's online shoppers, making a return will soon require just two steps. Customers will start the returns process on their phones, using Wal-Mart's app before heading to the store. Then, using a Mobile Express Lane at a Wal-Mart store, they will scan a QR code, which will prompt a refund to be credited to a shopper's payment account.