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Walmart.com makes it easier to return purchases

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Just ahead of the holiday shopping season, Walmart is trying to make it easier for its online shoppers to return products to third-party sellers as the battle with Amazon intensifies.

Starting this fall, customers buying items from third parties on Walmart.com will be able to print shipping labels directly from the website and clearly see the return policies for individual items online, according to a memo sent to sellers and obtained by CNBC.

Sellers on Walmart’s marketplace will soon be able to use the company’s “‘Returns Shipping Service,’ which offers special discounted shipping rates,” the memo said. Sellers will still have the ability to to set returns windows and shipping fees. (See a full copy of the memo below.)

The announcement comes nearly a year after Amazon’s changes to its returns and refunds processes sparked outrage from third-party sellers. CNBC reported that Amazon was making it easier for consumers to send items back, but it would be at the merchant’s expense. At the time, one seller said Amazon’s new policies would “totally crush small businesses.”

Amazon has also been called out for banning shoppers — those who return too many items — from its website, sometimes without giving them a reason why.

While Walmart’s e-commerce marketplace is smaller than Amazon’s, it has been adding more and more items to its website, especially now that the retailer owns Jet.com, bringing in Marc Lore in to head Walmart’s e-commerce division. Lore co-founded Jet and previously sold his start-up Quidsi to Amazon in 2010.

One major difference between the Amazon and Walmart marketplaces is that Amazon offers a “fulfilled by Amazon” option, where the company helps with shipping and returns. Walmart sellers, in turn, have been responsible for their own policies.

Things appear to be shifting, however, with Walmart telling sellers Thursday it wants to play a role in “significantly improv[ing] the return experience for both customers and … marketplace sellers.”

This could bode well for Walmart, which is increasingly the marketplace that professional sellers on Amazon are using. Some 36 percent of merchants on Amazon said that in 2018 they plan to expand their sales to Walmart, according to a survey by Feedvisor of 1,200 professional Amazon sellers this year.

Other marketplaces sellers plan to expand to in 2018

Source: Feedvisor

Walmart also said in the memo obtained by CNBC that it plans to at some point to utilize its fleet of hundreds of stores across the U.S. to make returns less of a hassle.

“We will share more information in the near future on how we are thinking about that,” the company wrote. “No other retailer has the size and scale to provide this level of convenience.”

Now working at Walmart, Lore has played a pivotal role in the company’s revamp of its website, which now includes a landing page for apparel from Hudson’s Bay-owned Lord & Taylor.

Walmart shares are up about 10 percent from a year ago, bringing the retailer’s market cap to $265.7 billion. That compares with Amazon, which has watched its stock climb about 90 percent over the same period. Amazon has a market cap of $920.1 billion.

Here is the full memo, which was sent to sellers and obtained by CNBC:

More and more, we have found that a great product return experience is a top contributor to overall customer satisfaction and repeat purchases. Our customers expect a consistent and easy experience regardless of whether an item is sold by Walmart or a marketplace seller. We also know returns can be an unwieldy process for you. We are excited to announce our plans to launch an enhanced Marketplace Returns Program this fall, which will significantly improve the return experience for both customers and you, our marketplace sellers.

What is improving for customers?
• Customers will be able to clearly see the return policy for each marketplace item on individual item pages.
• Customers will be able to print shipping labels directly from their Walmart.com accounts, as long as their returns are within your specified return window.
• Our customer service team will also be able to help facilitate returns in accordance with your requirements.

What is improving for sellers?
• New functionality will make it easier, faster and more efficient for you to manage returns on our platform.
• As a seller, you will continue to be able to configure the return policy for every item you sell, including the settings for restocking fees, shipping carriers, return windows and shipping fees.
• You will also have the option to use our Returns Shipping Service, which offers special discounted shipping rates.

And, this is just the first step. We have a big opportunity to use our 4,700 stores across the country to make marketplace returns even easier. We will share more information in the near future on how we are thinking about that. No other retailer has the size and scale to provide this level of convenience. We think it’ll be a game changer for you, our sellers, to be able to provide a better customer experience to our joint customers.

We look forward to working with you to launch this new program. At this point, no action on your part is required. We will have additional details to share in the coming weeks.

— CNBC’s Ari Levy contributed to this reporting.



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Three options strategies for the week: August 20

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The “Options Action” traders share three options trading strategies to kick off the week.

Dan Nathan recommends a call spread in Alibaba.

Mike Khouw recommends a put spread in the Energy ETF

Mike Khouw recommends an iron condor strategy in the Russell 2000 ETF

Trader disclosure: On July 17, 2018, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s “Options Action” were owned by the “Options Action” traders: Dan Nathan is long XLF Sept put spread. Dan is long CAT put spread. Dan is long QQQ Sept put spread. Dan is long SMH Oct put spread. Carter disclosures not available. Long S&P, HAL. Bearish on TSLA.



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cornhole wants to make it to the big leagues

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Ankit Mittal, of Ellicott City, Md., tosses a bean bag as his friend Shean Flynn, of Newport News, Va., waves his Terrible Towel as the two were playing Corn Hole while enjoying tailgating before the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

Ricky Carioti | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Ankit Mittal, of Ellicott City, Md., tosses a bean bag as his friend Shean Flynn, of Newport News, Va., waves his Terrible Towel as the two were playing Corn Hole while enjoying tailgating before the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

Every day after he leaves his job as a warehouse general manager, Cody Henderson runs up to three miles. Then, he sets up cornhole boards and practices throwing beanbags for a couple hours, focusing on timing, balance and precision.

“It helps a lot with the endurance and mental game,” Henderson, 27, told CNBC. “If you can sit there and not get bored in a quiet area for two or three hours, you are really going to set yourself up to succeed on the pro level.”

Succeed he has. Henderson, who lives in Jackson, Ohio, is the top-ranked player out of the 20,000 pros in the American Cornhole League (ACL). He says he earned between $20,000 and $25,000 in prize money last year. He’s peaking just as the sport is surging in popularity.

While cornhole is generally thought of as a beanbag tossing game played at family gatherings or tailgate parties, it’s gotten so big that players like Henderson are making their way to ESPN. During last year’s The Ocho, a one-day event for alternative sports on ESPN 2, the Championship of Bags was the most viewed competition.

In the 18 to 49 age group, more peopled watched cornhole on that day than the competing game coverage of Major League Baseball, the WNBA or the final stage of the Tour de France, according to Sports Media Watch.

For Henderson, cornhole requires 20 hours a week of training and tournaments on weekends. Still, he said most people don’t take him seriously when he says he plays professionally.

“They’ll say, ‘Oh yeah really?’ and just change the subject,” he said. “When people were seeing me on ESPN, everyone’s attitude changed.”



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TiVo falls on report Amazon is developing live TV recording device

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TIVO, Inc. gave a way free TIVO (DVR) Digital Video Recorder, boxes to thousands of happy Comcast Cable customers, who also donated a toy or clothing for charity outside their corporate headquarters.

Kim Kulish | Corbis | Getty Images

TIVO, Inc. gave a way free TIVO (DVR) Digital Video Recorder, boxes to thousands of happy Comcast Cable customers, who also donated a toy or clothing for charity outside their corporate headquarters.

Shares of TiVo fell as much as 10 percent in afternoon trading Friday following a Bloomberg report that Amazon is eyeing a live TV recording device.

TiVo pared losses and closed just 4 percent down at $12.20. The drop extends a challenging run for TiVo, which is now off 20 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in the last 12 months.

Amazon is known to scare investors and send stocks tumbling with news of a planned entrance into a new industry. Earlier this week, movie theater stocks dropped on a report that Amazon is considering a bid for Landmark Theaters.

Representatives for Amazon and TiVo were not immediately available to comment.



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