In the last couple of years, WalMart has really stepped up its fulfillment game in its efforts to catch up to got a total redo, from the ground up, then came the two-day shipping (which is now free without a membership fee) and now, an expansion of that free shipping into its third-party seller marketplace.

So much is going out from WalMart and its fulfillment centers that you have to stop and wonder, what’s the plan for the in-bound? Professional reverse logistics must be massive at a place like WalMart, where millions of different items are shelved and distributed by 4,700 stores, as well as by the website.

How WalMart is Doing Reverse Logistics

Walmart’s clearly got Amazon in its sights, but there’s a lot of catch-up if the big box store is going to be a real challenger to the internet retail giant.

This holiday season, however, WalMart’s game plan may generate some talk among those in the know. There’s a reason that approaching reverse logistics like WalMart is the gold standard, as the company is setting itself up to turn what most retailers consider to be a massive fail into a huge win with tactics like:

  • Simplifying online returns. Walmart aims to make it easier to return something to the store via their website. It’s a simple click and print situation, where you only have to log into your account and report the item that you need to return for the materials you’re going to need to pop up. Pack it, ship it with the label and your credit comes easy as you please.
  • Simplifying returns of WalMart items in-store. If you don’t trust yourself to get to a shipper with your labeled box, put that return into a box or mailing bag (depending on what you’re returning) and take it with you right to the store. The WalMart associate will take it from there. In-store drop-offs are clever because people do tend to buy new things when they’re making a return.
  • Expanding in-store returns to WalMart Marketplace items. There’s nothing like getting a great deal on a marketplace platform only to find out that it’s not really what you expected or it arrives DOA.WalMart is approaching this with a unique idea: accepting the return on the seller’s behalf. So, along with the fees that a Marketplace seller pays for basic access to the customer base, they can also opt for WalMart to return their items to inventory as part of normal returns management activities. It’s great for customers and for the sellers involved.

No matter how big or small your operation is, you can approach reverse logistics like WalMart. The secret is reducing the friction for your shoppers by making returns as easy to make as purchases. Those returns are going to happen regardless of your actions, you might as well use them as opportunities to provide excellent customer service and win customer loyalty.