Walmart Return Center Helpful Hints and Useful Information

Article posted 01/16/2014 by Tim Carey

Please use the following guideline to answer any questions concerning Walmart's Return Center procedures and policies.

Virtual Claims


Deductions against store "13-9070" represent merchandise that is ...
a) Leaking or damaged such that it could leak, therefore making the merchandise unsuitable for transport
b) Damaged / broken glass that poses a potential for injury to handle
c) Perishable grocery items that were previously being managed through reclamation (virtual claim allows for associate to manage merchandise at store level versus rinsing out the contents and shipping empty containers to Reclamation Center for processing)

Virtual Claims will accumulate and be deducted once monthly (on or around the 22nd of each month).

Virtual Claim activity can be pulled in Retail Link DSS reporting (see Retail Link DSS Reporting below for additional details)

Should you have a question regarding a virtual claim deduction, please contact: strdspts@wal-mart.com


Retail Link DSS Reporting and Returns


By using Retail Link reporting capabilities, suppliers are able to track return trends, break down by item level, or even store level.

Here are some general guidelines for interpreting the data:
Customer Defective Returns - represents the quantity of returns where a customer indicated to the service desk associate that the product defective, did not meet their expectation or is in a condition that it cannot be returned to the selling floor.

NOTE: merchandise that could contact personal identifying information cannot be returned to the shelf if returned opened. Baby merchandise, over the counter medications, grocery items will not be returned to the selling floor for any reason once they have left the store

Store Return Center Claims: if the return policy selected on the supplier agreement indicates returns will be sent to the WM/Sams Return Center for processing, this area is where you will see what the stores have processed, heading to return center. Customer/member defective returns quantities will be included in this total.

Store/Club RC Reason: by pulling these codes you can see what type of returns are occurring
1 = defective/customer/member satisfaction
2 = recall/withdrawal, end of season, guaranteed sale - inventory pull
3 = virtual claim (see section above for definition of virtual claim)
4 = reclamation (applicable to certain grocery items in department 90, 91, 92, or 95, WM only)
7 = internet return (customer purchases item on line and returns to store, WM only)
8 = Overstock (currently only an option for DVD Suppliers and specific Book Suppliers for WM)

Store Supplier claims: if the return policy selected on the supplier agreement indicates returns will be managed by individual claims direct from Store or Club, this area is where you will be able to track quantities out of the stores/clubs. Customer/member defective returns quantities will be included in this total.

Total Returns: generally not used by supplier community. This section includes all activity - including internal moves from store to DC which would not have a financial impact on supplier.

Returns are deducted against supplier at cost plus standard 10% handling fee - regardless of what general merchandise option is selected.

When developing a report to track return rates, compare Store Return Center Claims or Store Vendor Claims against POS to determine returns as a % to Customer Sales


Return Center On Hand/In Transit Report


Another tool available in Retail Link is the Return Center On Hand / In Transit report. To run this report - Retail Link, Decision Support, under Applications choose "Finance" from the drop down. This will then display Templates +Return Center, select RC Inventory. The system will ask you to input a date and may require a supplier number as well, then submit and the data pulled back can be converted to Excel. The data is broken out by return center and item. In transit represents merchandise that has already been scanned out of the store inventory but has not yet reached the return center or been processed and Return Center Inventory will show what has been processed by the return center and is still within their inventory, not yet shipped to the supplier.

Note: a)report does not distinguish between the different return types (1 = defective, 2 = recall/inventory pull, etc.), and b) report is not available for Sam's Club.


Return Center Guidelines for return merchandise shipped to the supplier


Shipment guidelines:
- Return volumes will determine shipment intervals. Large volume returns will be shipped at full truckload- 22 to 26 pallets. Lower volume returns will be shipped at LTL quantities(12 pallets and under). Average shipment turn is every two weeks.

- Suppliers with smaller volumes and small cube product will be shipped small parcel.

- During peak return times (January thru March 1st) shipment intervals may be increased due to space limitation only on an as needed basis.

- Return Centers cannot hold any shipments longer than 30 days, so product will be shipped regardless of shipment size once this threshold has been reached.

Palletizing\disposition guidelines:
- Supplier's products will be shipped together on the same pallet if going to the same ship address.

- If a supplier wants segregation of product to be shipped to a different address or request a disposition change (donation, liquidation, or recycle/disposal) for a specific subset of items, while other items continue to be shipped, changes must be sent in writing via email detailing ship address or disposition chosen, including item#/UPC's to be segregated. Once approved, email notification will be used as an addendum to the supplier agreement.

- Supplier will maintenance their own item file and will notify Walmart of new items that need to be segregated or moved to alternate dispositions.

- Segregation cannot be done after product is already scanned and made ready for shipment and can only be requested for future return shipments/claims once supplier sends notification of segregation needs.

- Number of segregation requests for product that is shipped to the supplier, may be limited due to space limitations, as each segregation, requires a unique processing slot location in the Return Center.


Temporary hold or temporary shipments of product:
- Suppliers that choose not to have their product shipped back have the opportunity to occasionally have product temporarily held at a Return Center for inspection or can have product shipped back to requested ship address for evaluation. This allows opportunity to determine root return causes and if product or packaging improvements are needed.

Return Authorizations:
No return authorization given may be revoked by Supplier. Supplier waives any return authorization requirement if Supplier fails to respond within 2 business days of Company's first attempt to contact Supplier requesting authorization, or if Supplier fails to complete any requested pick-up of Returned Merchandise within 10 days of Company's first attempt to contact Supplier.

Returns held at Company's Return Centers for 10 days will be shipped to supplier including freight charges OR disposed of at Company's discretion with no recourse for repayment of the total deduction. Any refused by supplier's receiving facility that is sent back to the return center will be liquidated.

Deviation to Return Policy on File:
Return center is unable to honor on-going requests to deviate from the return policy that is on file. If return option selected on Supplier Agreement is to ship returns back to Company return facility - returns will be shipped back in accordance with that policy.

Should Company wish to change return policy, please contact RLST@wal-mart.com to request a return policy addendum for your supplier agreement. The completed/signed document will be used to update the return policy and a copy will be attached in the OSA queue. Addendum for returns will remain in place until next renewal of the On-Line Supplier Agreement.


Requesting Aged Items be turned off for defective returns:


Should a supplier wish to have WM/Sams consider turning off returns (no longer selling the item, dropped item, etc.), supplier should request approval to shut off returns from the buyer. The buyer will want to know some specific information in order to make an informed decision.

Please provide the buyer with the following information:
- Last Activity, or Last Purchase Date
- Current on hands
- Last 4 weeks POS sales history
- Last date you shipped us product.

You can obtain this information from Retail Link. If you do not have access to Retail Link you will need to get with your buyer. Until such time the buyer approves of shutting off returns on an item, it will remain authorized for return, claims against those items will continue.

Once buyer agrees to shut off returns, notify Return Team (RLST@wal-mart.com) who will update the WM Return System. This update will notify the stores that the item is no longer returnable for credit. If your merchandise returns are managed through WM reclamation or return centers, you will continue to see claims for up to 60 days after the store system is updated to clear the pipeline of merchandise that was in transit or in return center/reclamation inventory at the time of the change.


We're Here to Help!


There is plenty of additional information to discuss surrounding the topic of the Walmart's Return Center, but there is just not enough time or space to include it all in this article. If you find yourself lost and need assistance, please consider our Retail Link training classes available around the country and even onsite at your office!