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Returning items to retail giant Walmart is about to become easier and faster as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced on Monday that it will be offering Mobile Express Returns which simplifies the return process through its smartphone app.   

The world’s largest retailer group’s latest e-commerce offering represents as part of its effort to step up its online shopping experience to rival e-commerce competitors, such as Amazon.com Inc.

Amazon announced in August that it has made deal with retailer Kohl, which offers Amazon returns, shipping as well as packaging service for free at more than 80 of Kohl’s department stores in Chicago and Los Angeles.  It has also started processing returns at Whole Foods stores across the US.  

How Walmart’s Mobile Express Returns App Works

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According to Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of Wal-Mart Services and Digital Acceleration, the system is intended to cut the average processing time for online returns from five minutes to 30 seconds since time has increasingly become the new currency in retail.

Eckert also said that under the new return policy, customers would be able to get a refund right away, while the store no longer has to bother with processing a damaged or defective return.    

Walmart’s Mobile Express Returns, which is a combination of the retailer’s 4,700 locations and its app, allow buyers to use the company’s mobile app to perform a return for the items they have bought either from Walmart.com or from its store.

The new feature is expected to be offered as early as November for the products sold and shipped by its e-commerce-site, followed by in-store purchases in early 2018. It is also planning to do the same returns process for items bought from third-party sellers on its site.  

Refunds will be added to customer’s accounts within 24 hours following the return, and there will be no need for them to send their product and wait several days for an online return to be credited.  

Moreover, starting in early December, the Walmart mobile return app would also let its customers to instantly get their refunds without even making an effort to physically return the product to the store using its keep-it option.

This policy includes the so called “keep-it” items, such as shampoo, household cleaning supplies and cosmetics. Other products, including those that cannot be reuse by the store once they have been opened or damaged, are expected to be added over time.

An online retail consultant said that consumers usually consider returning bought items to stores to be a bother, though it is often necessary. At least 30 percent of the products purchased online are returned, while in-store purchases only have 9 percent.  

For Walmart’s online buyers, they only need to follow two steps. First, begin the return process through Walmart’s phone app before making a trip to the store. Second, complete the process by dropping the product at the store’s Mobile Express Lane and scanning QR code for the refund.

The company has also invested in a system to make sure that its customers will not be abusing the new app service.

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