Wal-Mart's grocery pickup investment will keep it ahead of the competition

Robyn Ryan
October 11, 2017

The update comes after Walmart's announcement this month regarding a new Mobile Express Returns service. Chances are you're still there.

People can return their already purchased items by logging on the Walmart app.

On Monday, Wal-Mart said it upgraded its procedures to allows swifter returns of items at stores, by allowing customers to initiate the return on the smartphone app and then drop it off at a store. The new simplified returns process will be available starting in early November for items sold and shipped by Walmart.com, followed by store purchases in early 2018. The company says this will be due to growth in ecommerce and comp-sales.

While Amazon still can't match Walmart's massive physical infrastructure, it's made some headway towards catching up by allowing online returns in each of its almost 500 newly acquired Whole Foods stores and inking a deal with Kohl's to allow them at certain Los Angeles and Chicago locations.

It now offers in-store pickup for orders made on the Internet as well as free 2-day shipping for many purchases in a bid to compete with close rival Amazon.

"We've always had a great returns policy", Daniel Eckert, Wal-Mart's senior vice president for services and digital acceleration, said. Returning those items for one reason or another, not so much.

"It is clear that Walmart intends to continue to turn up the heat online", Charlie O'Shea, an analyst with credit rating and research giant Moody's, was reported as saying in a note. Electronics came in second at 33 percent and shoes were right behind at 32 percent of shoppers. This will include items damaged during delivery, or delivered not as described such as off foods and opened makeup.

Beginning next month, customers who place orders online will be able to use Walmart's mobile app to process returns, the company claims, in 35 seconds or less.

The lanes were created specifically for Wal-Mart's Pharmacy and Money Service customers - those that fill their prescriptions at Wal-Mart, and those that transfer money at the retailer's stores. The Bentonville, Ark. -based company will also develop fewer than 10 grocery-store-sized Neighborhood Markets, which have been a key driver of growth in recent years - and a bulwark against the encroachment of German discounters Aldi and Lidl.

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