Walmart is expanding two-day shipping and in-store returns to many items sold by third parties on its website next month, just ahead of the busy holiday shopping season. For the past two years, Walmart has offered free two-day shipping on millions of items on its site without a membership fee, on orders of $35 or more. This latest step will add "millions of additional items" to this perk, according to Walmart. In addition, the discount retailer announced customers will now be able to print out a return label directly from Walmart's website and mail unwanted items back to sellers. Or, they can bring a package back to the services desk at Walmart store locations, and the retailer will mail boxes back to sellers. Walmart will make this option available at all of its 4,700 stores.
Total Retail's Take: With the competition for consumers’ online spending intensifying, Walmart is taking proactive steps ahead of the holidays to make its e-commerce buying experience as convenient and enjoyable for customers as possible. Free shipping has proven to be a top purchase motivator, and in order for Walmart, Target and other big-box retailers to keep up with Amazon.com for e-commerce market share, they have little choice but to offer at least some form of the promotion. Perhaps equally important is the steps Walmart is taking to make its product returns process easier for customers. Leveraging its nationwide store locations, Walmart is giving its customers more choices for product returns — a cost of doing business as more items are sold online. The real winners in this fight for e-commerce supremacy are consumers, who figure to benefit from additional deals and perks.