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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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Tech shares come roaring back, led by Netflix and Amazon

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Technology stocks moved sharply higher Friday, after a two-day slaughter saw the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index fall briefly into correction territory, down 10 percent from its recent highs.

Technology Select SPDR Fund, which tracks the S&P 500 technology sector, rose 3 percent in trading. Tech stocks were led by Netflix and Amazon, up 5.8 percent and 4 percent, respectively, while chipmakers AMD and Nvidia both rose more than 4 percent. Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet and Twitter shares were rose 2 percent or more.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 270 points in a rebound Friday.

Netflix and Microsoft were boosted by upgrades from Wall Street analysts who said the sell-off had gone far enough. Amazon was one of the stocks CNBC’s Jim Cramer said he was adding as part of his broader view that a market turnaround was due on Friday.

Tech stocks got clobbered during a sell-off across stock markets this week, amid concerns over rising interest rates, escalating trade tensions and tighter monetary policy. The past two days saw Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet all in correction territory after taking big hits this week.

On Thursday, the Nasdaq became the first major U.S. stock market benchmark to dip into a correction, falling as low as 7,274 in intraday trading — a drop over 10 percent from the most recent 52-week trading high of 8,133.30. A correction on Wall Street is defined as down more than 10 percent from its high.

Amazon is one of the top names to buy in this environment, according to Cramer. Although shares of Amazon trade at $1,776 a share, Cramer said he doesn’t know “when you buy Amazon other than when it’s down big and people are really scared.”



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Tencent Music to postpone its IPO until November due to global market selloff: WSJ, citing sources

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The logos of QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are seen on the screen of an iPhone on June 12, 2018 in Paris, France. QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are the three streaming Chinese music services owned by Tencent. 

Chesnot | Getty Images

The logos of QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are seen on the screen of an iPhone on June 12, 2018 in Paris, France. QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are the three streaming Chinese music services owned by Tencent. 

Tencent Music Entertainment Group will postpone its highly anticipated initial public offering because of the recent sell-off, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday citing people familiar with the deal.

The Journal reported that the company met with its underwriters this week, but sources said Tencent Music ultimately decided to push its debut back amid concerns that the sell-off would affect its pricing.

Stocks fell sharply Thursday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing more than 500 points lower, bringing its two-day losses to more than 1,300 points. Investors dumped equities around the globe amid concerns about rapidly rising interest rates, a possible global economic slowdown and overly ambitious tech valuations. The Nasdaq on Thursday became the first major benchmark to fall into correction territory.

Sources told the Journal that Tencent Music was originally set to kick off its roadshow next week and begin trading the following week. The Journal reported that the division now plans to wait until November.

The music arm of Chinese tech giant Tencent owns the four largest music apps in China and counts industry competitor Spotify as a backer. According to a prospectus filed earlier this month, Tencent Music plans on raising as much as $1 billion in what could be the largest U.S. IPO by a Chinese company since Alibaba raised over $20 billion in 2014.

Parent company Tencent owns 58 percent of the music division, while recently public Spotify owns 9 percent of shares.

Tencent did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Read the full report in The Wall Street Journal.

— CNBC’s Sara Salinas, Fred Imbert and Michael Sheetz contributed to this report.



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Sears has been liquidating outside of bankruptcy for years 

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In this Nov. 17, 2004 file photo, Kmart chairman Edward Lampert listens during a news conference to announce the merger of Kmart and Sears in New York.

Gregory Bull | AP

In this Nov. 17, 2004 file photo, Kmart chairman Edward Lampert listens during a news conference to announce the merger of Kmart and Sears in New York.

When Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert merged Sears and Kmart in 2005, he believed that combining two fading giants would create a fortified competitor to stand up against new rivals like Walmart. But the deal was unable to stem the decline.

Over the past decade, Sears has had just one quarter of positive same-store sales. Unable to rely on the Sears’ business to pay the bills, Lampert instead sold or spun off many of its most valuable stores and brands. A thinning cash flow has left little money to reinvest in the company itself, letting it become more irrelevant as new competitors like Amazon rise.

In effect, Lampert liquidated Sears outside of a formal bankruptcy proceeding. But now, as Sears is staring down the real threat of bankruptcy, those moves may come back to haunt it.

Sears is asking lenders for money to support it in bankruptcy, but it has little to offer them by way of collateral or reassurance. That dearth makes it harder to avoid full-out liquidation, though not impossible, whether that comes before or after filing for protection, people familiar with the ongoing talks say.



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