If you’re a fan of gaming, then you’re probably no stranger to pre-ordering the latest games and game consoles.
But for everyone else, let’s start with what “pre-ordering” is.
Pre-ordering is a process that allows customers to order an item in advance of its official release date.
The benefits of pre-ordering include:
- Guaranteeing yourself access to the item(s) you want in case supplies run short
- Increasing the chances that you’ll have access to your item on its release date
- Locking in access to the item’s original sale price in case prices go up after its release
Though it may or may not be surprising, Walmart doesn’t actually have an official policy on pre-orders. In fact, pre-orders work pretty differently whether they’re placed online or at a Walmart retail location. And the logistics of placing a pre-order might even vary from store to store.
Here, we’ll try to go into as much detail as possible about how Walmart pre-ordering works both online and in store.
What Kind Of Products Can You Pre-Order?
By far, the most popular types of items to pre-order are video games and video game consoles. But that’s not all there is.
The following types of items are commonly available for pre-order from Walmart:
- Video games
- Video game consoles
- Vinyl records and CDs
How To Pre-Order At Walmart?
When pre-ordering an item from Walmart, you will have the option of pre-ordering online and having your item(s) delivered directly to your home or pre-ordering in person from a Walmart retail location. If you pre-order your item(s) in person, you will need to pick them up in person.
You will have until the day before the item’s release date to submit a pre-order through Walmart.com.
To pre-order an item from Walmart.com:
- Find the item on Walmart.com when it becomes available for pre-order
- Place your order the same way you would any other online order
- When the item is ready to be shipped (shortly before its release date), it will be shipped to the mailing address you provide during the checkout process
- Be aware that even though Walmart endeavors to get all of their pre-orders to customers by the item release dates, this cannot always be guaranteed
To pre-order an item from a Walmart retail location:
- Visit your local Walmart and find the pick-up counter
- Let an associate know that you would like to place a pre-order for your item
- The associate will walk you through the rest of the process, which will include charging you in full for the item
- If you are pre-ordering your item in the months of August, September, October, November, or December, then you might be able to take advantage of Walmart’s layaway program, which will enable you to only pay for 10% of the item’s listed price at the time of your initial pre-order
- Arrive back at Walmart on the item’s release date to pick up your item
If you place your pre-order online, you will not have the option of picking it up in store. Likewise, if you place your pre-order in person, you must pick it up in person.
Changing the payment method on a pre-order
Only if you place your pre-order through layaway in person at a Walmart retail location. If you pre-order online or pay for your pre-order in full in person, you unfortunately will not be able to update your payment information after placing your order.
Does Walmart Charge For Pre-Orders Immediately?
Despite some conflicting information available online, it’s safe to say that when you pre-order an item from Walmart, you will be charged immediately, regardless of when you receive your item.
The only exception to this rule is if you take advantage of Walmart’s layaway program by placing your pre-order in person between the months of August and December.
Do Walmart Pre-Orders Arrive On Release Day?
Unfortunately, when pre-ordering an item from Walmart.com, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll receive your item on release day. While Walmart certainly tries to ensure that those who pay for expedited pre-orders will receive their items on time, several Reddit users have commented that this doesn’t always happen.
For pre-orders made in store, however, you will always be able to pick up your item on release day as soon as the store opens. Just take it from this former Walmart employee:
According to one Reddit user and Walmart electronics associate, Walmart usually doesn’t receive designated pre-order copies of games, consoles, etc. That means that those who pre-order games are simply receiving one of the shelf copies on the day of its release. By this logic, it might make just as much sense to arrive at Walmart when they open on the day of release to get your copy without the need to pre order.
Can You Cancel Pre-Ordered Items?
What happens if you pre-order an item through Walmart and then decide you no longer want the item? Don’t worry–you still have options!
Fortunately, canceling a pre-order at Walmart is fairly simple.
If you placed your pre-order online, all you have to do is find the order in your purchase history and select the “cancel” option. Canceling orders is always possible until your order has been processed. However, with pre-orders, your order is unlikely to be processed until a few days before the item’s release date. To learn more about editing or canceling orders from Walmart, click here.
If you place your pre-order in person, you will need to visit the store in person to cancel. Simply visit the Walmart pick-up counter and let an associate know that you have a pre-order you’d like to cancel.
Can You Return Pre-Ordered items?
Lastly, we’ll talk about what happens if you decide you no longer want your pre-ordered item after you receive it.
In most cases, you will be able to return your pre-ordered item to Walmart. However, there are a few caveats to be aware of.
Because most pre-ordered items from Walmart are video games or video game consoles, it’s important to note that these items must be new and unopened in order to be eligible for a full refund. If your game or console has been opened or used, you may only be eligible for an exchange.
The last thing to remember when returning anything to Walmart is that you will need your original purchase receipt or other proof of purchase (such as a packing slip). Without a receipt, you may only be eligible for an exchange or a refund in the form of store credit.
Pre-ordering from Walmart is a somewhat complex and mysterious process. If you’re committed to pre-ordering your favorite games, consoles, albums, and more, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to do this by shopping at Walmart. But when it comes to receiving your items as fast as possible, you might find that pre-ordering isn’t actually your best bet.
With many popular video games, for example, you might have a better chance of receiving a copy of the game immediately upon its release simply by arriving at Walmart first thing on release day. It’s up to you!