Walmart is one of the world’s most popular and biggest sources of essential items. From grocery products to the latest cell phones, you are guaranteed to find your desired purchase on their online marketplace.

However, what if your purchase doesn’t meet your standards and you desire a refund? In reality, the Walmart refund process is complicated and even confusing to eCommerce sellers who market their products on the platform.

To ease the process and reduce the hassle of returning a defective product, here is a thorough explanation of Walmart’s return policy alongside all the factors involved.

Note: This content aims to provide essential information to both buyers and sellers; therefore, some parts of the information listed here will not apply to you.

Return Policy written on a wooden cube in a office desk
It’s always a good idea to check each Walmart seller’s rules for returning items.

Regulations Governing Walmart’s Marketplace Return Policy

Unlike Amazon, which has a specific return policy, Walmart’s return policy varies from seller to seller, meaning there will be different return windows, delivery methods (in-store or mail-in options), and more.

In other words, some sellers may offer you a 90-days return window with a hassle-free return option, while others may require direct contact via a phone call to initiate a return. Nevertheless, Walmart has a minimum standard of return, ensuring customers get a consistent return experience despite the seller’s requirements.

One example of this minimum standard of return is the window duration to deliver a defective product back to the seller. Walmart sets the minimum return period to be 30 days, beginning from when the item is shipped. However, exclusive products have a shorter return window of 15 days), and these include the following items:

  • Camcorders and digital cameras
  • Printers
  • Portable video players
  • Digital music players
  • Tablets, cell phones, and e-readers
  • GPS units
  • Drones
  • Computers, computer hardware, and video game hardware

It’s worth noting that Walmart protects buyers from paying extra money on restocking and return shipping in most cases. Additionally, if you decide to return hazardous products like flammable materials, specific cosmetics, and computer equipment, the seller or Walmart will lend further assistance to you, ensuring your safety as well as the package’s return. The same rule applies to packages that weigh over 150 lbs.

The Walmart Marketplace Promise

Sometimes, buyers and sellers encounter issues while engaging in commerce, and if such an event occurs, Walmart will step in and provide a solution. For example, if a buyer receives an item that’s completely different from their order – like receiving an iPhone 11 instead of an iPhone 11 pro – and the seller denies the buyer a return, Walmart will intervene.

In this scenario, Walmart’s intervention will involve ordering the seller to perform a “satisfactory resolution” within 48 hours. If the resolution doesn’t meet their expectations, Walmart reserves the right to deem the action unsatisfactory.

Additionally, if a buyer cannot deliver a product to the customer after two days of the estimated delivery date, Walmart will automatically issue a refund. This action may seem disheartening, but it also relieves customers’ frustration about whether their purchase will arrive.

The Walmart Marketplace Promise also protects customers from scenarios like:

  • Not receiving a refund after the trackable shipping method revealed that the seller had received the item for 48 hours.
  • Walmart prevents sellers from charging customers in the return shipping cost when the need for a return being the seller’s fault.
  • Incorrect tracking data that reports that an item hasn’t been shipped to the address on the order.

How to Return A Marketplace Item

Similar to other online stores, returning an item on Walmart is easy and convenient as long as they’re within the seller’s return policy. Below are few methods that you can apply to return a wrong or defective purchase:

  • Via your Online Walmart Account: To initiate a product return, log in to your Walmart account on your smartphone or computer’s internet browser, visit your purchase history, select “Start a Return,” and follow the prompts to select which item you wish to return.
  • Contact Customer Care: An alternative method would be to contact Walmart’s customer care, explain your problem to the representative, and have them guide you through the return process.
  • A Walmart Store: While this method is common, it’s another means of returning an item to Walmart, and it merely invokes packaging the faulty product and taking it to the customer service desk. The representative will obtain the necessary details from you from this section, enabling them to ship your package back to the source. As previously mentioned, you need to contact the marketplace seller directly to discuss how to return products that weigh over 150 lbs or are hazardous – like batteries, flammables, etc.

Requesting a Return Exception (Sellers) 

Goods that fall in the category of perishable, hazmat, or freight and can’t be transported in a single box or package are eligible for Walmart’s Return Policy Exception. To activate this service on your items, you need to open a case with seller support; afterward, complete a Return Exception Request Template for review and verification by the support team.  Once approved, mark your item as “returns restricted,” which means a customer will have to contact you to initiate a return.

Types of Walmart Returns

It may seem surprising, but Walmart has three main types of returns: In-Store Returns, online returns, and the “keep it” option.

1. In-Store Returns: Walmart’s physical stores also accept returns, and all that’s needed is for customers to bring the defective product to the store in its original package for shipping. Afterward, the associate will search the item on Walmart’s database, print the return label with Walmart’s Returns Shipping Service (RSS), and proceed to return the item.

Note: Customers will be repaid via the same method they used to purchase the returned product.

2. Online Returns: The second Walmart return type involves customers printing the return label from their online account, attach it to the packaged product, and drop it off at a shipping company like FedEx or UPS.

3. “Keep It” Option

The final return type lets the customer keep an item if it falls far below a specific price point and isn’t worth shipping to the seller. Sellers offer this option by setting “keep it” rules at a particular price point for products in certain categories.

Therefore, once a customer decides to return a product, they automatically receive a refund and keep it. Naturally, this option may be beneficial if one can ensure using the product in its current defective state or with a few fixes.

Note: Customers will nullify the “Keep it” rule if they return the product via a Walmart store.

Generating Return Shipping Labels

Return shipping labels are essential for getting a defective item back to the seller, and the default setting for returns is Walmart’s Return Shipping Service (RSS). These labels must include the PO# and RMA#, which are for tracking purposes and offering discounts on shipping rates.

Walmart’s Return Shipping Service (RSS) will be applied automatically to any in-store returns and serve as a backup if your carrier couldn’t generate a label for any reason. An alternative option to acquire a return label will be to visit your carrier account since Walmart already supports carriers like UPS and FedEx.

To perform this action, you will need to log in with your account details and carrier API credentials.

Covering the Cost of Returns

Walmart presents a fair system where the party paying the cost of returning an item depends on why a customer initiates the return. In most cases, the seller is responsible for the cost if the reason for returning the item includes factors like:

  • Missing parts
  • Wrong size
  • Poor quality
  • Late arrival
  • Incorrect item received
  • Not as described
  • Shipping box damaged
  • Received more than the requested quantity

If the reason for a return meets the criteria, Walmart Fulfillment Services will take full responsibility for the cost of returning the product only if the product was WFS-registered. If not, the seller is required to handle the cost.

However, on very rare occasions, buyers are required to handle the return cost of their reason for rejecting the item includes factors like:

  • Bought somewhere else
  • Bought the wrong size or color
  • Lower price, no longer wanted
the word refund written on a phone screen
Not issuing refunds on time can negatively affect your Walmart reviews.

Walmart Marketplace Refund Time frames (Sellers)

According to Walmart’s requirements, sellers must issue refunds within 48 hours of receiving a defective item from a customer. Failure to perform this task will result in Walmart auto-refunding the buyer based on the Walmart Marketplace Promise.

Nevertheless, there are two ways sellers can issue refunds to buyers. These include:

  • Refund Upon Initiation: This option involves refunding the buyer’s money immediately after initiating the return deposit not receiving the package yet. Applying this method is beneficial as the show of good faith may be appreciated and most likely encourage future purchases, especially when your customer was already unhappy with their purchase of a damaged item.
  • Refund After Receiving The Item: An alternative – but most common – method is to refund the buyer’s money once the return has been processed and completed. According to Walmart’s requirements, sellers must refund a buyer’s fee within 48 hours of receiving the item.

Techniques for Reducing Return Rates (Sellers)

If you return more of your offerings than they buy, you’ll eventually run out of business or lose your license to sell as a Walmart Retailer. Fortunately, this section presents you with some sure-fire strategies to help reduce Walmart returns and offer a better experience to your customers.

These include:

  • Offer Generous Return Policies: Walmart offers its sellers the liberty to set return policies that favor the retailer and don’t contradict Walmart’s requirements. However, we recommend being generous with this power and be lenient with your policies as possible without harming your profit margins. This recommendation is predicated on the idea that customers will feel more comfortable buying from you if your policy doesn’t strike fear in them. Additionally, customers always compare your policies with other sellers of the same product. They may even opt to pay more for a product than what you offer because they have more flexible return policies. It’s worth noting that more flexible return policies like giving a longer window to return products reduce a customer’s tendency to make returns. 
  • Provide a Detailed Product Description and Attributes: People return products because they either didn’t match the description or mistook it for something else. While you might not pay for the return fees since you’re not at fault, it does affect your annual gains. For this reason, we recommend ensuring your descriptions are as detailed as possible; for instance, if you sell electronics, be specific on the device’s weight, size, specifications, and other essential factors. The same applies to clothes as you need to provide details on the material, dimension, and care instructions. These details are essential as sole customers wish to Pair their purchase with previously existing products; therefore, accurate information on your offering helps them achieve their goal and gives you a profit in return.
  • Ship Products Faster: As previously mentioned, customers will immediately ask for a refund when the product takes too long to deliver. Even Walmart will cancel the order if the delivery exceeds two days after the estimated time. For this reason, prioritize fast shipping as it can help you prevent returns on perfectly functional products. For example, suppose you typically take seven days to deliver an item. In that case, your customers may change their mind and ask for a refund immediately if they see a different seller that offers five days or even 2-day shipping. To offer the best shipping service possible, consider fulfilling through services like WFS or Delivery since they offer 2-day shipping.
  • Do Not Oversell: Forgetting to control your inventory properly will lead to overselling, resulting in customers not getting their desired item. So naturally, buyers will request a refund once their desired item is no longer available – an issue that plagued both small and large businesses. The best option to fix this problem is to get multichannel software synced to your inventory and shipping software, which alerts you once you run out of stock or when an item no longer qualifies for shipping. Disappointing your customers will harm your bottom line, so find inventory software and incorporate it into your business.
  • Present High-quality Visuals: Every eCommerce blog has featured this advice as it is crucial for succeeding online; however, sole sellers fail to implement this tip on all their products. To prevent buyers from confusing your product with something else, include high-quality photos and videos that reveal as much detail about your offering. Essentially, highlight every angle and noteworthy feature of your product, keeping them within Walmart’s image requirements. This strategy is also predicted because since customers can’t interact with your product like in a brick and mortar store, detailed pictures and videos are the best options to make them buy.

A Summary on Walmart’s Marketplace Return Policy

Returning a product on other platforms is a hassle, but Walmart makes it easier by having sellers make policies that do not contradict the marketplace’s requirements. Additionally, if the seller refuses to act accordingly, Walmart will intervene – according to the Walmart Marketplace Promise – and perform refunds or returns on their own.

As for sellers, working on Walmart may be tedious, but it presents some benefits as long as they adhere to the return policies of Walmart. Furthermore, the best methods to reduce returns and requests for refunds are to be flexible with your policies, ship faster, manage your inventory to prevent overselling, and encourage customer reviews.