Walmart Inc. is blurring the lines between items bought from the retailer and those bought from marketplace sellers.
Walmart, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000, on Tuesday announced plans to extend its offer of free two-day shipping on orders of at least $35 to items sold by marketplace merchants.
“In the coming months, you will see millions of additional items with the two-day free shipping label as we work with hundreds of our high-performing marketplace sellers to extend the offer to their eligible items,” writes Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer, Walmart eCommerce U.S., in a blog post.
Additionally, the retail giant is looking to streamline the returns process for marketplace products both online and in stores. First, Walmart will allow customers to return marketplace products in any of its 4,700 stores—a big change from the current policy in which customers are unable to return marketplace products in stores. “With 90% of Americans living within 10 miles of a Walmart store, we think this is going to be a real game changer for our customers,” Hilton writes.
Internet Retailer’s analysis shows online shoppers overwhelmingly prefer to return their online orders in stores. 47% of consumers say they prefer to return online orders to a physical store, compared with 27% preferring to ship back to the retailer and 26% having no preference at all, according to an Internet Retailer/Bizrate Insights survey of U.S. online shoppers conducted in June.
Starting in mid-November, a consumer will be able to package a product and bring it to the customer service desk at any Walmart store. Walmart will then facilitate the return by shipping the item back to the seller, and the customer will receive the refund from the seller.
The retailer is also changing how customers return items online. Shoppers will soon be able to log into their Walmart account, print out a return label and ship it directly to the seller. In the current system, a customer has to notify a seller of a return through his account, and the marketplace seller then contacts the customer directly with return information.
Walmart launched its marketplace in 2009 with only six sellers, and in 2016 made a big push to add many more merchants to its site. The biggest retailer in the world now has more than 75 million SKUs on Walmart.com and 15,000 sellers, Internet Retailer estimates. Roughly 9% of Internet Retailer’s 2018 Top 1000 sells on Walmart’s marketplace.
More sellers plan to join Walmart in 2018, according to a Feedvisor survey of 1,500 Amazon sellers in January. 17% of Amazon sellers already sell on Walmart.com, and 36% plan to begin selling on Walmart’s marketplace this year. Feedvisor is a technology company that helps retailers and brands sell on marketplaces.
In other company news, Walmart Canada announced on Tuesday it has added online grocery pickup locations in 22 locations in Regina, Halifax, Moncton, Victoria and Quebec City. Coinciding with those new locations, a consumer will be able to use the Walmart app’s mobile check-in feature to check in to one of those stores 30 minutes prior to his scheduled grocery pickup time. When the customer is close to the store, a Walmart associate will prepare the customer’s order.
Walmart plans to expand the mobile check-in feature to all Walmart Canada grocery pickup store locations next year. Walmart Canada operates 411 stores and, its site, Walmart.ca, is visited by more than 750,000 customers daily, Walmart says.
In addition, Walmart announced plans to introduce Pickup Towers to the Canadian market in early 2019 with two test locations in Ontario. The towers are automated machines located in Walmart stores that allow a shopper to pick up her online order by scanning a bar code that Walmart sends to her smartphone. In the U.S., Walmart announced in April it will have 700 towers in its stores by the end of the year.Favorite