Walmart opened up its platform so that almost everyone can sell on it. This is a huge opportunity for independent sellers and small businesses. However, there still aren’t many resources out there to help sellers optimize their sales and return funnels on the platform.
Properly handling returns is a huge component of having a successful online business. Did you know that, on average, 18% of all products purchased online are returned? Depending on what you sell, your experience may be a little different, as returns rates vary between product categories. For example, clothing has a 56% return rate, while books and games typically have a 5% return rate. If you’re looking to expand your catalog, we recommend prioritizing items with low return rates to minimize the amount of time, energy, and money you spend on handing them.
However, some amount of returns is inevitable no matter what you sell. The key is to create a system that can make it easier to give your customers a positive experience while strengthening your bottom line.
Note: This article reflects the most up-to-date return information from Walmart as of October 2022. We try and keep our articles updated, but you should always check the Walmart website to confirm its most current policies
Returns for products fulfilled by Walmart
When products are fulfilled by Walmart, the company handles the entire logistics supply chain: warehousing, shipping, and customer service. As a seller, you will have to pay some fees for this service, but it also represents the most convenient way to handle returns.
Walmart will automatically take returns as long as they fall within the stated return window. There are some settings you can change on your seller account dashboard, but for the most part the process is out of your hands — which is the appeal for many.
It’s worth noting that certain customers can receive faster refunds through Walmart Fulfillment Services. Refund timing is based on item price, payment method, and fraud history. This policy rewards customers with excellent purchase history and keeps them happy, which is better for you.
Why wouldn’t you want to use Walmart? Not every product will qualify to be Walmart Fulfillment Services, which means sellers must find other ways of addressing returns. Also, there are other options that can be even more beneficial — if you know about them.
Fulfill returns yourself for more control
When you handle returns yourself, you get more flexibility in how to handle them. Walmart still has rules that you must follow to continue to sell on their platform, but overall you will have more control over how to process customer returns.
When you decide to handle returns, you provide Walmart with a return address. For many sellers, this is simply their home address or a rented storage container. Larger businesses might have an agreement with a large warehouse to handle storage for them. Finally, it is possible to form relationships with different partner organizations that benefit both — more on that later.
Unlike Amazon, Walmart doesn’t allow sellers to offer returnless refunds. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to have the customer keep the item than pay to have it shipped back. Unfortunately, Walmart doesn’t allow this practice. All the more reason to be careful about the kinds of items you sell and to find a return option that most benefits you.
The biggest challenge with processing returns yourself
The cost for more control over your returns is twofold. The first issue you are most likely to run into is a lack of space. Many independent sellers and small businesses don’t have a convenient place to store even a moderate amount of inventory. Returned merchandise, when combined with on-hand merchandise, can quickly overtake whatever space you’ve carved out. A busy returns month, like after Christmas, might be all it takes to have returns snowball into a larger problem.
The other major cost is time. Even if you are handling returns yourself, Walmart requires you to handle them quickly to continue to use their platform. If too many people have bad experiences on Walmart’s platform, they will leave. And that is something Walmart will work hard to avoid. It makes sense, but running a business is time-consuming work. Time spent processing returns is time not spent on other aspects of your business.
Finding a reverse logistics partner
Finding a good reverse logistics partner allows you to keep the flexibility of not relying on Walmart while also taking the most costly and time-consuming parts of the process off your plate.
WIN Warehouse is perfectly set up to be a good returns partner for independent and small businesses. We have the infrastructure, manpower, and expertise to handle your returns now and into the future as you grow.
WIN is a nonprofit organization that takes donated goods and makes them available to nonprofits at a significantly reduced cost. This allows nonprofits to stretch their budgets farther than ever before, thus making an even greater impact in the areas they are working in, such as homelessness, urban revitalization, or helping veterans.
When you partner with us, you can have your returns automatically shipped directly to our warehouse. You don’t have to spend any time or energy processing them and you won’t have boxes cluttering up your space.
Remember, any returns sent to WIN counts as a charitable donation on your taxes. This lowers your business’s taxable income and should save you a significant amount of money at the end of the year. When combined with the cost of shipping, this is usually a better option than liquidating stock or spending more time and energy trying to resell it in a used condition.
Want to get started?
Ready to put a better returns system in place for your business? Fill out our contact form and Travis will reach out to answer your questions and get you started. It’s that easy.