- Walmart has partnered with FedEx to allow online shoppers to return items from their homes, according to a company post Monday.
- The new free service, Carrier Pickup by FedEx, lets customers set up an appointment online for a FedEx associate to pick up packages from their doorsteps. Walmart also added features to its app to make in-store returns faster.
- Walmart's announcement comes days after Amazon announced an extended return policy for the holiday period and "no-box, no-label" returns at more than 500 Whole Foods Market locations.
In a year of extreme e-commerce growth, which has stretched logistics networks across the industry during the holiday season, expect an extreme amount of holiday returns.
Salesforce has estimated there could be around $280 billion worth of returns this holiday season. That is to be expected amid record online holiday shopping this year. It's also an effect of consumers avoiding physical stores amid the pandemic and so losing the ability to browse in person.
Moreover, "bracketing" — where customers buy multiple versions of the same item to test them out at home — has been on the rise since the pandemic began. According to Narvar, which has developed shipping and returns platforms for merchants, 62% of consumers reported bracketing this year, a 50% increase over the past three years.
As they vie for online market share, Amazon and Walmart have much to gain by making returns as easy and friction-free for consumers, and themselves.
Along with the new options for at-home and in-store returns, Walmart U.S.'s vice president of customer strategy, Linne Fulcher, said that the retailer is speeding up the time it gets money back to customers on their returns.
Amazon, meanwhile, says it has "tens of thousands" of drop-off locations making up its returns channel. Among them are its branded stores, Amazon Hub Locker locations, Whole Foods, UPS Access Point (which number 20,000) and UPS store locations, and 1,100-plus Kohl's stores.