Walmart Raises Return Shipping Rates

Walmart Raises Return Shipping Rates

The retailer didn’t disclose the extent of the increase, which it attributed to “changing market conditions.”

Walmart has bumped up return shipping rates for seller-fulfilled orders as businesses try to balance consumer-friendly returns policies and minimize reverse logistics costs. Some are charging returns fees or toughening up their policies in other ways.

Crafting an effective returns strategy is a particularly pressing challenge for online sellers. In December, the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail projected that online returns in the U.S. retail industry would reach $247 billion worth of merchandise in 2023, or 17.6% of total online sales. That’s a larger share than projected for brick-and-mortar shopping, with in-store returns worth 13.3% of total sales.

Sellers on Walmart Marketplace, the retailer’s e-commerce platform, can add a “Keep It Rule” to avoid paying for return shipping, per the March “Seller Digest.” The rule allows customers to keep their items and receive a full refund.

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“Sometimes it’s more cost-effective for Marketplace sellers to let customers keep an item and process the refund than paying a return shipping fee,” according to Walmart’s Seller Help page on the rule.

“Keep it” policies are appealing for retailers selling low-cost items, as the expenses of shipping and processing often surpass the product’s worth, according to a 2023 report from goTRG, a returns management solutions provider. The report said 59% of the over 500 U.S.-based retailers it surveyed have adopted “keep it” services for returns that aren’t economical to ship back.