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Wal-Mart to speed up returns for items bought online

Oct 9 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Monday it was launching a process to speed up returns of items bought on its website, in time for the busy holiday season, as it looks to compete better with e-commerce giant Amazon.com.

Under Wal-Mart's Mobile Express Returns, starting in early November, customers can use the retailer's app to return an item. The process can then be completed at "express" lanes in a store by scanning a QR code and handing over the item.

The new process reduces the time taken for returning products at stores to as little as 30 seconds from the 5 minutes that the previous process required, said Daniel Eckert, head of Wal-Mart's U.S. services and digital acceleration business.

The new returns process also allows customers to get refunds as soon as the next day. Some items, including shampoo and color cosmetics, will be eligible for instant refunds even without the products being returned in store.

Wal-Mart is investing billions to get its online business right to stave off marketshare losses to Amazon, which has shaken up the industry with its acquisition of upmarket grocer Whole Foods.

Wal-Mart said it planned to extend the new returns process to items bought in its stores by early next year, and is working on a similar returns policy for items bought from third-party sellers on Walmart.com. (Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)