Returns can be a real pain, but Walmart is trying to make them easier (and more socially distanced).
Walmart acknowledges that many customers probably avoid making returns on low-priced items because it’s not worth the time and effort. To keep their customers happy and loyal, they want to fix that.
A report from Coupons in the News shares that a Walmart has applied for a patent on a new “System and Method for Automatically Processing Online Refund Request.”
This would totally change the game for Walmart customers who don’t have the time or desire to hop in the Customer Service line to make returns.
Here’s what you need to know:
Walmart wants to let you return unsatisfactory groceries using an app.
Shoppers would scan a product’s barcode, answer some questions about the product — what’s wrong, is it half-eaten, etc. — and submit the request online.
Using artificial intelligence, the new system would determine if an item is returnable, and then, whether or not the customer would have to bring the item back to the store.
You might be able to get a Walmart refund without going to the store.
Sometimes it costs a store more to process a return in store than to just let the customer keep the bad product. Amazon is known for offering refunds and letting customers keep the “returned” products.
Walmart would determine whether customers would need to return the product, considering whether the resale of an item outweighs the costs of the return process, or if the item could be donated.
The system could decide just to give you a refund without having to bring the product back.
Walmart wants to introduce ‘speedy return’ counter or kiosk.
Even if you have to bring a product back to the store, Walmart wants the process to be quick and simple, replacing the long wait in the Customer Service line with a fast, streamlined drop-off.
You’ll get flagged for making too many returns.
Walmart’s patent application has a lot to say about sniffing out returns fraud, and hints that the new system would be able to detect suspicious returns.
If you’re repeatedly returning the same kinds of items or items that are mostly consumed, or are making 10 returns every month or 50 returns in a six-month period, you’ll be flagged and automatically denied for any returns you try to make, with the message: “This item is not returnable because suspicious activity is detected.”
There’s no telling if and when the new system would go into effect.
Walmart filed the patent in January 2019, and the information was made public in August 2020. Here’s hoping that in the midst of introducing cashierless stores, drive-in movie theaters, and a new partnership with Instacart, Walmart will add this feature to the shopping experience.