Did Walmart just guarantee it will be the easiest place to shop for Christmas?

Discussion
Photo: Walmart
Sep 22, 2022

Walmart is known for its low prices and the retailer seems determined to also be synonymous with convenient holiday shopping with new programs that promise to take much of the hassle of buying and returning Christmas gifts this year.

The retailing giant today said that it was launching three “no concerns” return options including extended return windows for customers who are looking to get an early start on their Christmas shopping, curbside returns and return pick up of returns at the homes of its Walmart+ members.

Walmart has issued a guarantee that eligible gift purchases made on or after October 1 can be returned for through January 31.

The retailer said that curbside pickup has become a popular shopping option for its customers and now it was adding the convenience of returns to the service.

Walmart+ members in select stores will receive the most convenient option of all with the retailer offering to pick up returns directly from their homes. Members can schedule a return from home and they won’t need to have a box or a label. They will simply hand the return to one of Walmart’s drivers and the retailer will take care of the rest.

The curbside and home pickup services will launch the first week of October. 

Did Walmart just guarantee it will be the easiest place to shop for Christmas?
Photo: Walmart

Walmart, in its typical fashion, is also letting customers know that these conveniences will not mean that they pay more for their Christmas gifts. The retailer said it understands that its customers need to stretch their dollars more than ever after dealing with decades high inflation levels this year. The chain said it was making “significant price investments in key categories” and would offer “thousands more Rollbacks this holiday” on top gifts in beauty, consumer electronics, home, toys and more.

“Saving our customers time and money is in our DNA, and I am proud of how we’ve innovated to offer exactly what our customers need this holiday – deeper savings across a broader assortment of gifts with a seamless omnichannel shopping experience,” said Tom Ward, executive vice president and chief eCommerce officer, Walmart U.S., in a statement. “We listened to our customers, and the way we’re approaching holiday this year underscores our commitment to making holiday shopping easier, affordable and more enjoyable.”

Walmart yesterday said it would add 40,000 seasonal and full-time employees to its payroll as it heads into the holiday season. The retailer is looking to fill store and customer care associates and truck drivers. Walmart’s hiring needs were minimized this year after the chain added 150,000 mostly full-time associates and 20,000 supply chain workers last year, CNBC reports.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How much appeal will Walmart’s return options have for Christmas gift shoppers this year? How will the chain’s curbside and pickup return programs position Walmart against rivals including Target and Amazon.com?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Walmart is clearly paying very close attention to the operational lessons that Target is providing. And they clearly intend to cede no ground to anybody."
"There is going to be a tsunami of consumer satisfaction after they digest all the benefits offered."
"Curbside and especially pickup returns are a WOW! moments."

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17 Comments on "Did Walmart just guarantee it will be the easiest place to shop for Christmas?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Every shopper has experienced these hassles, despite promises by retailers. Walmart is playing offense by addressing these issues and explaining how they’ll do things differently this year. Announcing these services and reinforcing their commitment to rolling back prices makes for strong holiday messaging. If they can deliver on their promises, and execute as they plan, I expect Walmart’s curbside and returns programs be more effective this year. But it will come down to execution.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Returns are a big concern when gift buying because people want peace of mind that items can be brought back if they are not wanted or not right. Walmart is effectively providing this with a much longer window which also supports its efforts to get people shopping earlier – which they are likely to do as they attempt to spread out the cost of the holidays. It is also making the returns process easier, which will come at a cost, but will likely allow it to compete more effectively with Amazon and other online players. Walmart’s online non-food sales have been more sluggish this year so the company needs to reinvigorate growth over the holidays to make up some ground.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Looks like Walmart is going to jump through hoops in order to deliver on its brand promise of maximizing value, and convenience, for its customers. Delivering on that promise looks very different than it did a short while ago. It also sounds really expensive. Walmart is clearly paying very close attention to the operational lessons that Target is providing. And they clearly intend to cede no ground to anybody.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

If you’re talking about stores, yeah, but overall that crown sits on Bezos’ head.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust
Richard Hernandez
Director of Commerce
6 days 1 hour ago

This is a good strategy if they can execute it. I was hoping they would resurrect layaway, especially now in these economic times. THAT would have been a big deal.

Tara Kirkpatrick
BrainTrust

I’m curious to see how Walmart gets the word out about these conveniences to draw appeal. There’s no doubt that consumers will enjoy the perks, but they may not realize just how much until the experience is felt in comparison to what they have to go through with Target or Amazon. For this reason, Walmart may not reap the benefits until next holiday shopping season because most returns are done after the holidays.

storewanderer
Guest
5 days 20 hours ago

Customers who initiate a return on the Walmart app will likely be given the option of a curbside return.

I’ve had a few in store items I purchased lately that were lousy quality (cheap stuff, only a few dollars) and I went into the app to initiate the return and it gave various options. Ultimately it issued me a refund automatically and told me to dispose of the items myself. For a larger value return earlier this year I went through the app and ultimately selected the return to store option and was provided the barcode to go in and present to them with the item. For curbside they can make that an option and then the customer will know.

But I’m also not sure how many customers initiate returns via their app….

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

These are certainly exceptional options being offered to Walmart shoppers. I just worry that Walmart’s ability to fund these costly services will once again elevate customer expectations of other retailers – most of whom do not have the financial resources that Walmart does – to endure the margin impacts these services will certainly impose.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

These smart moves by Walmart will attract shoppers by minimizing the hassle of returns. Extending the returns period and allowing shoppers to skip the store are welcome courtesies.

The Walmart+ pickup of returns from home differentiates the retail giant. If a second Prime Day takes place in October, Walmart’s new returns policy reflects the longer holiday sales period.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

Walmart+ members will have the option to have their returns picked up at their homes? Wow. That’s a serious customer service commitment that I would have never expected from any retailer except maybe some of the really high-end luxury brands.

storewanderer
Guest
5 days 20 hours ago

How many people actually pay for that service? I think they see it as a selling point for a service with questionable demand this far.

Or they’ve done an analysis of what is purchased via Walmart Plus, see it is mostly food which has a low, low return rate, and realize few will take them up on this.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Many retailers have extended return windows, but where Walmart wins this game versus other stores is the ease of return. Curbside and especially pickup returns are a WOW! moments.

I don’t believe this will impact Amazon. The Amazon shopper has a different mantra. But Target better think about the impact.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

There is going to be a tsunami of consumer satisfaction after they digest all the benefits offered.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Convenience is a major driver in getting customers to come back. Walmart is doing its best to become the most convenient retailer. This is what customers want. One important aspect of this is to make customers aware of the benefits. (That’s the job of the marketing department.) The pandemic accelerated the desire for convenience. What made Amazon different for years is influencing retail for both online and brick-and-mortar retailers. Walmart continues to push the idea of big selection, low prices, and convenience. That’s great news for its customers.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Definitely a home run. Historically, making returns to Walmart has been a hassle. Note, the long lines in the returns area as you enter a Walmart. Obviously, there is a cost to do this the way Walmart proposes. However, there can be significant competitive advantages versus Target and other bricks and mortar retailers. In addition, this strategy challenges the “king” of returns’ convenience, namely Amazon.

storewanderer
Guest
5 days 20 hours ago

The return experience at Walmart has become terrible in-store. Inconsistent service desk hours, understaffed service desks, too many other services happening at the service desk, and a messy cluttered service desk area leave a terrible impression. Add to it that too many employees of the Walmart service desk behave as if the refund comes out of their own pocket and it makes for a miserable return experience. And I won’t go into how certain Walmarts make up their own return policies denying certain items, denying no receipt returns even for low value, etc. which cause ongoing arguments between employees and customers all day that are no fun to witness.

It appears the corporate office has identified a problem and rather than fix the long broken service desk, they are trying to route returns through other channels. We will see how it works.

storewanderer
Guest
5 days 20 hours ago

This is interesting. In my area I am seeing Walmart Customer Service Desks closed very early lately at some stores on random days, not every day. Like, closed at 3 PM. Or closed at 6 PM. So you cannot return anything and are told to come back.

Shifting returns to curbside would extend return hours and make it easier to do returns.

Pushing returns to curbside also makes it harder for people to take items off the shelf then walk up to customer service and request a refund.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Walmart is clearly paying very close attention to the operational lessons that Target is providing. And they clearly intend to cede no ground to anybody."
"There is going to be a tsunami of consumer satisfaction after they digest all the benefits offered."
"Curbside and especially pickup returns are a WOW! moments."

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