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Walmart Speeds Up In-Store Returns with Mobile Express Returns

The more consumers shop online, the more they return. And the easier the returns process, the more they’re willing to fill their cart—or shop in-store.

That’s the thinking behind Walmart’s latest service, Mobile Express Returns, which allows for easier in-store returns, allowing shoppers to recoup their funds quicker. And, it seems the big-box retailer is onto something.

Over the summer, Narvar, a post-purchase experience platform, polled 677 shoppers and found that 47 percent prefer to return online purchases to stores. The ability to get their money back immediately is a motivator for 35 percent of respondents while 28 percent like having the opportunity to shop for other things.

Mobile Express Returns is tied to the store app—another benefit for Walmart—where shoppers can initiate the return and receive a QR code, which they’ll scan in the Mobile Express Lane at the customer service of their local store. Once they hand over the merchandise, their refunds will be credited as soon as the next day.

[Read more about how retailers are adapting to manage more in-store returns: Report: E-commerce Fulfillment Challenging for Store Managers]

“By leveraging our physical stores and the Walmart app, we’re changing the returns game in ways that only Walmart can do,” said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president, Walmart Services and Digital Acceleration, possibly taking a swipe at Amazon, which even with the addition of 465 Whole Foods stores and the 85 Kohl’s locations currently accepting Amazon returns, has limited physical locations where goods can be returned. By comparison, Walmart has 4,700 locations, which places a Walmart store within 10 miles of 90 percent of Americans, the company said.

The new system will be available in early November for Walmart purchase on the company’s site and early 2018 for items purchased in-store. Consumers who shop third-party sellers on will have to wait a bit longer, as the mass merchant is still trying to determine how to make that work.

In the meantime, the retailer will expedite returns even faster starting as early as December when it will dole out refunds as soon as returns are initiated through the app—even before the goods are physically back in stores.