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Walmart returns
Walmart’s Mobile Express Returns service starts next month. (Walmart Photo)

Sometimes, brick-and-mortar retail can still flex its muscles.

Walmart is taking advantage of the fact that it has thousands of stores around the United States as it launches a speedy new return service called Mobile Express Returns which will allow shoppers to bring unwanted products purchased online back to a physical store.

The company calls it an “industry-first experience” that combines the use of its app and its more than 4,700 store locations. Here’s how it works:

  • Initiate the return: Using the Walmart app, select the Walmart transaction and item(s) to return and follow the prompts to start the return process.
  • Finish the return at the store: At the store, fast-track through the line via the Mobile Express Lane at the Customer Service Desk. Scan the QR code displayed on the card reader with the Walmart app, and then hand the item to the associate.

Walmart said refunds will be credited to customers’ payment account as soon as the next day — no mailing a product back, no waiting days for an online return to be credited.

“We know that returning an item and waiting for a refund, especially for a product purchased online, isn’t always seamless, so we’ve completely transformed the process for our customers — whether they are shopping in stores or at Walmart.com,” Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of Walmart Services and Digital Acceleration, said in a news release. “By leveraging our physical stores and the Walmart app, we’re changing the returns game in ways that only Walmart can do.”

The move is obviously a shot at Amazon and its position as an e-commerce giant as the two continue to go head to head in the battle for loyal shoppers. While Walmart said that 90 percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store, Amazon has its work cut out for it as it seeks to establish a footprint offline, whether through its book stores or the acquisition of Whole Foods.

Arkansas-based Walmart’s new returns process will be available starting in early November for items sold and shipped by Walmart.com, followed by store purchases in early 2018. Walmart is also working to create a similar streamlined returns process for items sold by third-party sellers on Walmart.com, according to its news release.

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