Walmart have told marketplace sellers that they intend to make Walmart marketplace returns easier for items purchased from third parties. They’ll be making it easier to print returns labels and even to return items purchased by third party merchants in any of Walmart’s 4,700 physical stores around the country.
Seller’s naturally hate returns, and here in the UK they’re obligatory under consumer legislation which gives buyers the right to change their mind with no fault when buying online. In the US, returns are not quite as easy and merchants can impose conditions such as restocking fees as well as choose their own returns windows and carriage terms.
Walmart marketplace returns will be made easier for customers by getting some of the basics in place that you might have expected them to have already have. An example is to show customers a Walmart Marketplace merchant’s return policy on individual item pages. They will also enable customers to print shipping labels from returns directly from Walmart.com so long as the return is within the merchants specified returns window. Amazingly, currently customers have to contact the Walmart Marketplace seller direct if they wish to return an item. Finally Walmart customer support agents will be able to assist customers with returns to third party merchant for the first time.
To support sellers with the changes, Walmart will add functionality to manage returns on the Walmart Marketplace and offer Walmart’s returns shipping service at Walmart negotiated discounted rates. Sellers will still be able to set their own returns conditions.
The most significant Walmart marketplace returns change, which the retailer describe as a ‘game changer for sellers’ will be the ability for customers to return marketplace orders in Walmart stores. They say that no other retailer has the scale and real estate to offer this type of service.
The issue for Walmart marketplace sellers will be what happens when a customer returns an item instore. What condition will it be accepted in? Will the customer buy a replacement instore directly from Walmart? If the customer simply wanted an exchange for a different size are the likely to buy an alternative product instore directly from Walmart rather than an alternative from the merchant?
It’s worth noting that while Walmart are to start accepting third party merchant marketplace returns instore, they’re not so keen to enable customers to purchase from marketplace sellers instore. They blocked marketplace items from their new Walmart.com in-store kiosks which are rolling out to enable online purchases instore.