Walmart vows to handle online returns in 35 seconds or less

Walmart (WMT) is shifting its battle with Amazon (AMZN) to online returns. 

The world's largest retailer said it's speeding up its online returns with a new service called Mobile Express Returns, which the company said is geared to being quick and "maybe even a little enjoyable."

The first change will come next month, when customers will be able to start the return process on Walmart's app. After that, they can bring the item to a store, scan a barcode with their smartphone and drop it off with an employee at an express lane at the customer service desk. The new process will take about 35 seconds or less.

In December, customers will be able to keep items ordered online that the retailer would discard if returned, such as opened makeup, a bruised fruit or a bottle of floor cleaner that was damaged during delivery. Shoppers would scan the item with their smartphone and get an instant refund.

"We know that returning an item and waiting for a refund, especially for a product purchased online, isn't always seamless, so we've completely transformed the process for our customers," said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of Walmart Services and Digital Acceleration, in a statement. 

Walmart said it is also working on a similar program for goods sold by third-party merchants on its website. 

Customers return about one-third of goods bought online, compared with just about 9 percent of merchandise bought in bricks-and-mortar stores, according to Invesp.