DayBreaker

Walmart aims to make merchandise returns a 35-second process

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A discount giant has just made a big move in its returns process.

Eager to streamline the often frustrating task of merchandise returns, Walmart will introduce Mobile Express Returns. Starting Nov. 9, the new service will enable online customers to use the Walmart app to begin the returns process — before even heading to their local store.

Here’s how it works: Customers follow prompts on the Walmart app to find their transaction and pinpoint the merchandise they want to return. Once completed, they can go to their local Walmart store, and enter the Mobile Express Lane.

Here, they scan a QR code displayed on their Walmart app directly onto on a dedicated card reader. The refund is credited back to the shopper’s payment account by the next day, according to Walmart.

The returns process, which the company estimates will take 35 seconds or less, can be completed across Walmart’s more than 4,700 locations.

The discount giant plans to streamline the process even further in December, when it enables customers to instantly receive their refund without even making a trip to the store to physically return the item. This service will initially be available on select household items, such as shampoo and color cosmetics, and others items to be added over time, Walmart said.

“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,” said Daniel Eckert, senior VP, Walmart services and digital acceleration, Walmart U.S. “By leveraging our physical stores and the Walmart app, we’re changing the returns game in ways that only Walmart can do.”

To ensure that shoppers don’t abuse the system and keep merchandise they have already been reimbursed for, the discounter has invested in technology to make sure the service isn’t exploited and even detect shoppers who might be abusing the privilege, according to The Street.

Looking ahead, store purchases will be integrated into the program in early 2018. The company is also creating a similar streamlined returns process for items sold by third-party sellers on Walmart.com, according to the discounter.

The new returns program sends a message to online rival Amazon, which recently partnered with Kohl’s to streamline its own returns process. While the department store retailer began accepting Amazon returns this month, the service is only available in 82 Kohl’s stores in Los Angeles and Chicago.

“Walmart, with Marc Lore’s influence, is working hard to leverage the power of their 4,700 stores, by launching new and aggressive in-store pickup programs to draw their customers back into the store,” said Michael Levine, VP of marketing at Photon. “They use the Walmart Mobile app as a means to create new synergistic experiences that cross from digital into the physical store – putting digital at the core for delivering new customer convenience.”

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STORE SPACES

Forever 21 opens new beauty store concept

BY CSA STAFF

Fast-fashion giant has unveiled a new freestanding store dedicated to beauty.

Riley Rose opened its first store, at Glendale Galleria, Glendale, Calif. Ten locations are due to open at GGP malls across the country by year-end.

The brand will also launch its own website this November, Fashionista.com reported.

For more, including photos, click here.

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FINANCE

This private equity giant is sticking with retail

BY CSA STAFF

At a time when most private equity firms are growing increasingly cautious about investing in retail, one firm is going against the grain.

Sycamore Partners is raising its biggest-ever fund, which it will use to invest primarily in retail, CNBC reported. The firm is looking to raise between $3 billion and $4 billion, according to the report.

The news comes a month after Sycamore closed on its $6.9 billion acquisition of Staples, which it is splitting into three parts.

In general, private equity firms are shying away from retain investments, the report said.

Click here to read more.

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