Returns typically increase around the holiday period, both due to the higher volume of purchases being made and the increased risk of buying a gift for another. Timed to help consumers with any holiday gift returns, Walmart has announced a new service in partnership with FedEx that supports the return of online purchases – without needing to leave the house.
Today, Walmart launched its “Carrier Pickup by FedEx” solution, which can be used for any purchase shipped and sold by Warmart.com. Consumers initiate the return through either the retailer’s website or the Walmart app, at which point they select the item for return and opt for “Carrier Pickup”. Shoppers can choose their preferred date and time, then pack up their item for FedEx to collect during the appointed window.
“Just in time for the busy holiday return season, we are excited to announce that customers can return items purchased online without ever having to leave home,” said Linne Fulcher, VP of Customer Strategy, Science and Journeys at Walmart. “Now, customers can schedule a return through our new service, Carrier Pickup by FedEx, which is an incredibly convenient way to make that unwanted gift magically disappear. Even more magical, this new return option is not only super-easy but also free, and here to stay beyond the holiday season.”
Currently Carrier Pickup by FedEx is only available for customers who have access to a printer, as the package must have the return label attached for pickup. However, those who do not have printer access can still engage in free, easy returns for online purchases.
When initiating the return on Walmart.com or in-app, consumers can select the “Drop off at FedEx” option and receive a return QR code. The shopper can then drop off the packaged return at any FedEx Office location, where the QR code will be scanned, a free return label will be printed, and the item will be shipped back to Walmart.
QR codes have grown in popularity this year, as consumers and businesses have pushed for contactless options. Accessible through any smartphone, QR codes can be scanned from a distance and remove the need for tracking numbers, receipts or other administrative records. They can also be used to trigger refunds at the point of scanning; Walmart claims that online returns will be credited as early as the next day, while in-store could be same day.
“No matter how customers choose to return the item, we’ve worked hard to speed up the time frame for which customers get their money back,” said Fulcher. “Can’t find the receipt? No problem! If a customer has purchased an item with a debit [or] credit card in-store, we can look up the purchase at the register.”
These announcements from Walmart come as many retailers are expanding their reverse logistics offerings, in order to improve the customer experience. This year has seen retailers diversify their revenue channels and sell both in-store and online, through partners and DTC. In order to become fully omnichannel, returns policies need to be equally fluid across all platforms.
Increasingly, return journeys are beginning online; by logging the return digitally, retailers can better prepare for the incoming product and refunds can be facilitated before the item is received. It can also make in-store drop-off faster and more efficient. At Walmart, a new policy allows customers to initiate returns for purchases from any location – in-store, online or from a third-party vendor – through the app or Walmart.com.