Walmart.com to offer easier returns for marketplace purchases
Walmart.com is looking to improve the shopping experience for customers making purchases from third-party sellers on its online marketplace by making it easier for them to return products they do not want.
According to a memo sent to marketplace sellers and obtained by CNBC, Walmart.com customers will be able to see return policies for individual items and print shipping labels directly from the site beginning in the fall.
Marketplace sellers will be able to take advantage of Walmart’s “Returns Shipping Service” to receive discounted shipping rates. The third-party sellers will continue to set the terms and costs of returns.
The memo promises future steps that will benefit third-party sellers when it comes to returns. “We have a big opportunity to use our 4,700 stores across the country to make marketplace returns even easier. … No other retailer has the size and scale to provide this level of convenience. We think it will be a game changer for you, our sellers, to be able to provide a better customer experience to our joint customers.”
The return of goods sold online has been pegged at between 15 to 20 percent of sales, well above the eight percent average for stores, according to the commercial real estate services firm, CBRE. The high rate of online returns has been tied by sites such as Amazon.com offering to take back products at no charge.
Amazon has sought to make purchasing from marketplace sellers on its site more attractive by lowering the price on goods sold by third-parties in key categories. The e-tail giant, which reimbursed sellers for any discount it added above the original price, marked applicable items with tags that read “discount provide by Amazon.” Some third-party sellers were unhappy with Amazon’s decision after realizing that price parity clauses with other retailers, including Walmart, may have been violated by the action taken by the e-tail giant.
Third-party sellers were also unhappy, CNBC reports, last year when they learned they would be responsible for the associated costs of Amazon’s new, friendlier “automatically authorized” return policy for return of their goods.
- In its battle with Amazon, Walmart tries to make it easier for online shoppers to return their unwanted purchases without upsetting sellers – CNBC
- Amazon’s new refunds policy will ‘crush’ small businesses, outraged sellers say – CNBC
- Are chronic online returners only a few bad apples? – RetailWire
- Amazon undercuts rivals by adding discounts to marketplace seller prices – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What effect do you think Walmart.com’s friendlier return policy will have on site sales and its ability to recruit third-party sellers? How do you expect Walmart to use its stores to help with returns to third-party sellers on its marketplace? Will this be a game changer?