Nearly 93% of the products available on Walmart.com are part of Walmart Marketplace, which allows third-party sellers to sell items on the retail giant’s website and reach millions of customers worldwide. Since it was established in 2009, Walmart Marketplace has been working to improve its customer experience and streamline its Walmart Marketplace return policy, and today, most orders purchased in the marketplace can be returned to Walmart stores.
However, customer returns and order cancellations have a negative impact on your business. Whether items are returned in-store, shipped back to third-party sellers by consumers, or canceled by the seller before shipment, there are consequences for sellers, the most obvious being the added cost of shipping and restocking items.
But there are steps you can take to reduce your returns and cancellation rate and keep money in your pocket.
How Cancellations and Returns Impact Walmart Marketplace Sellers
When a Walmart Marketplace consumer returns an order or you’re forced to cancel an order due to low inventory — it can mean much more than a lost sale.
They cost you money.
It’s estimated that return deliveries will cost U.S. ecommerce retailers $550 billion by 2020. Order returns and cancellations can be especially detrimental to small business owners who sell on Walmart Marketplace because of their tighter budgets and limited resources. Returns add up over time, especially since Walmart Marketplace places the burden of return shipping costs on the seller and doesn’t allow sellers to charge restocking fees. You may also have to invest additional resources to resell merchandise from canceled orders or returns.
They cost you time.
Unsatisfied customers and product returns mean you’ll spend more time communicating with consumers, processing returns, and restocking inventory. And cancellations cut into your time as well since you have to sell the canceled inventory a second time. This can be especially trying for small business owners with few or no employees because it takes away from the time they could be using to do other important tasks, such as improving their core product.
They Affect Your Order Defect Rate.
To ensure customers have a positive experience, Walmart Marketplace has strict standards in place for sellers to maintain their Seller Performance. However, your Order Defect Rate, or ODR, can negatively impact this score, which has the potential to affect your ability to sell on Walmart Marketplace. A poor ODR can lead to the removal of your listings or even the suspension of your account.
Your ODR is calculated over a 90-day period and is the total number of defects ratioed to total orders placed within that duration. Delivery defects, customer complaints, merchandise returns, or the cancellation of an order by the seller results in a defect.
Sellers should aim to keep their ODR below 2% to avoid listing removals or account suspension.
They could lead to negative reviews.
Returns made because a product doesn’t meet expectations or because of a bad experience with a seller can result in negative reviews. And negative reviews may prevent future customers from buying your products.
You could lose a customer.
A poor experience with you, your product, or your Walmart Marketplace return policy may prevent a consumer from buying from you in the future.
Why Walmart Marketplace Orders Are Returned or Canceled
Customers cancel orders and return items for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common.
If a Walmart Marketplace item is categorized incorrectly or has a limited, misleading, or inaccurate description, consumers will often return it because it fails to meet their expectations.
Not every consumer will read product descriptions closely, so even if your listings are thorough and accurate, a buyer may still return an item when they realize their mistake.
Buyer Changes Their Mind
Consumers may decide they don’t like an item for a variety of reasons. It might not fit or serve the purpose they’d hoped, or they may have found the same item elsewhere at a better price. Buyer’s remorse also happens — sometimes buyers simply regret purchases and decide to return them.
Although the enhanced Marketplace Returns program has taken steps to protect sellers from scams and fraudulent returns, such as covering the cost of fraud verification during checkout, sometimes illegitimate orders and returns occur. If Walmart suspects an order is fraudulent, the customer will receive a cancellation email.
When you cancel an order, it also affects your Order Defect Rate. This often occurs if you sell inventory that you don’t actually have in stock, which can easily occur if you sell across multiple marketplaces without an integration that automatically updates inventory across those channels. Because a seller cancellation due to lack of inventory reflects poorly on Walmart, it has a negative impact on the seller. Luckily, this situation is easily avoidable with Sellbrite’s inventory management software.
Walmart’s Auto Cancellation Policy
If a Walmart Marketplace order is open and unshipped for more than 10 days after its estimated ship date, the order will automatically be canceled.
How to Reduce Walmart Marketplace Returns and Cancellations
Returns are inevitable when selling on Walmart Marketplace, but there are steps you can take to reduce the number you receive, as well as the number of orders you must cancel due to the lack of inventory.
Create detailed, accurate listings
Nearly half of e-commerce returns occur because the purchased product doesn’t match its listing or was wrong altogether, so the first step to reducing Walmart Marketplace returns is to ensure your listings are accurate.
When listing a product on Walmart Marketplace, first make sure the item’s category and corresponding attributes, such as brand name and color, are correct. This will help consumers find your items when using Walmart’s search filters.
Next, give your listing a title that’s unique and user-friendly, so people can easily find it. This means using keywords that people may use to search for your product, including generic terms — like “women’s sneakers,” if you sell athletic shoes, for example — as well as the brand name, make or model, product code, and any important attributes, as illustrated in the screenshot below.
The ideal length of a Walmart Marketplace listing title is between 50-75 characters.
In your product description, include all of the information about the item that a potential buyer may need, such as sizing, specs, brand name, and color. You may want to use your keyword research at this step to help you make your description more effective. List the most important information first, and consider using bullet points to make the listing easy to scan and understand.
Include a variety of high-quality images
One of the most important aspects of your Walmart Marketplace product page is the photos. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, so put the best product photo first to entice buyers. You can learn more about the science behind using photos in ecommerce in this post from FollowUp.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when photographing products.
- Use a white or neutral background and shoot in an area with good lighting. You may also want to invest in a lightbox to give your product photography a professional edge.
- Use a tripod — even if you’re shooting with your phone.
- Ensure product colors are accurately represented in the image. If the images look off, reshoot the pictures or touch them up using photo-editing software.
- Take photos from multiple angles, showcasing every aspect of an item and providing closeups of various features, as in the screenshot below.
- Include photos with the item next to other objects to show scale so that consumers have a clear picture of the item’s size.
- Follow Walmart’s image guidelines.
For more tips on how to take great product photos — even with your smartphone — check out this Curalate article.
Opt for Walmart free Two-Day Shipping
With the popularity of Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping, online shoppers have come to expect quick delivery. In addition to delivering items fast, offering two-day shipping also establishes trust with the customer by showcasing that you’re able to meet their needs and compete in a global marketplace.
But joining Walmart Marketplace’s two-day shipping program does much more than simply help you reduce returns by ensuring that orders arrive fast. There are several other benefits of joining the program as well.
- You’ll rank higher in Walmart search results. As illustrated in the screenshot below, products with two-day delivery appear at the top of the page.
- You increase your odds of winning the Walmart Buy Box, putting you at the top of search results and increasing your sales.
- You’ll lower your cart abandonment rate since 58% of shoppers abandon their carts because of high shipping costs.
- You’ll boost your conversions. In fact, Walmart has seen sales triple for sellers who have enabled free two-day shipping.
Review regularly canceled and returned items
The Returns and Refunds dashboard in Seller Center is an essential tool in helping you reduce your Walmart Marketplace returns. Here, in addition to managing your refunds, you can also easily determine which products are being returned most often, as well as identify the most common reasons that customers return items. With this knowledge, you can take steps to try to reduce your number of returns.
For example, if products are continually returned for not arriving fast enough, you may decide to opt into Walmart Marketplace’s two-day shipping program. Or, you may notice that the same items are returned frequently because of their poor quality, and you may decide to cease carrying them altogether.
Offer a More Lenient Return Policy
A customer-friendly return policy won’t only entice people to buy; it can also encourage them to buy from you again. In fact, 89% of American shoppers say they’d purchase from an online seller again if they have a positive returns experience.
When it comes to return policies, there are some restrictions that Walmart Marketplace sellers must abide by, though.
- There’s a 30-day minimum return window for all Marketplace products with the exception of the following items: computers, computer/video game hardware, printers (excluding 3D printers), camcorders, digital cameras, GPS units, digital music players, tablets, e-readers, portable video players, drones, pre-paid cellphones, and post-paid cellphones.
- Marketplace retailers can’t charge consumers return shipping fees.
- Marketplace retailers can’t charge consumers restocking fees.
Return policies can vary from seller to seller, especially when it comes to the return window. One way to reduce the number of returns is to offer a longer return window. Research has found that giving consumers more time to return items can actually result in customers becoming more attached to an item and opting to keep it, a phenomenon known as the “endowment effect.” Also, offering a longer return window makes the shoppers’ decisions to keep or return an item less urgent and, therefore, less top-of-mind.
Encourage customers to leave product reviews
Reviews are one of the best ways to entice customers to buy and feel good about their purchases. In fact, 97% of shoppers say customer reviews influence their buying decisions, and 88% of people trust customer reviews as much as their own friends’ and family’s recommendations.
This kind of social proof makes consumers more trusting of the seller and more satisfied with their purchase, making them less likely to return it.
After customers receive their orders, email them and request that they review their purchase.
Use Software to Manage Your Inventory
The chief reason that Walmart Marketplace sellers need to cancel an order and end up with an order defect is that they mismanaged their inventory and sold an item they didn’t actually have in stock.
Inventory management software can help you avoid this problem and help keep your Order Defect Rate low by ensuring your inventory is correct across all the channels you sell on. While some accounting automation tools include inventory management, there’s also software, such as that available through Sellbrite, that performs this function, and it has many other benefits for online retailers as well.
Sellbrite’s inventory management software, pictured above, eliminates overselling by automatically updating your inventory in every warehouse across every marketplace you sell on, including Walmart, Amazon, Shopify, eBay, and Etsy, just to name a few. It syncs your available inventory in minutes and provides you with an inventory transaction history.
Reducing Walmart Marketplace Returns and Cancellations Starts with You
While it’s impossible to completely avoid order cancellations and returns in ecommerce, as we’ve detailed, there are many ways a seller can reduce their Walmart Marketplace returns and cancellations.
Many of these require more work on the seller’s part when setting up their account and listing their products, but investing this time up front will pay off in the long run. Not only will it help establish you as a trusted Walmart Marketplace seller, but it’ll also result in fewer cancellations and returns, which means greater profits for you.