No box, no label, no problem

Two-thirds of consumers say instant refunds and not having to package their own return is worth a farther drive.

We know from our previous reporting that online retailers’ top two pain points around returns are fraud and exceptions caused by poor packaging. One way to combat both challenges is to have consumers skip the pack-and-label process and drop off online returns at designated shipping locations where items can be inspected and properly packaged.  


From many retailers’ perspectives, the no-box/no-label capability is an obvious win:  


  1. Reducing Returns Fraud: Simple inspection at the point of drop-off adds a layer of friction for would-be fraudsters (after all, sending back a box of rocks is a bit trickier without the box) 
  2. Eliminating Processing Errors: Having a trained associate complete the packing prevents exceptions caused by self-printed labels, taped-over barcodes, and—let's say... “creative” consumer packaging jobs. 
  3. Instant Refunds or Credits: This method allows for the possibility of issuing refunds or credits at the drop-off point, which acts as an incentive to drop off returns sooner and significantly reduces "where is my refund" (WISMR) calls to customer care.  


This month on BOXpoll, we're exploring "no box/no label" from the consumer’s perspective. Is it truly more convenient? Does the promise of an instant refund and not having to repackage their own return justify driving a bit further to a specialized drop-off location? 


Here’s what online shoppers said: 

Results by age 

Results by metropolitan density 

Key takeaways:


  • Two-thirds of consumers will drive farther for an instant refund, regardless of gender, income, and region of the country. This is encouraging news for retailers, because it implies that they don’t need a large number of inspection locations to reap the benefits of no-box/no-label—the important thing is having them accessible in major metro areas. 
  • Suburbanites between the ages of 35-54 are especially likely to drive a little further for an instant refund, likely because they’re accustomed to driving 15-20 minutes for errands and may be able to consolidate trips. 
  • Parents with young children at home are 4% more likely to prefer traditional drop-off than nonparents. This preference is likely driven by limited time availability and hectic schedules. 


To put it shortly, no box/no label returns drop-off is a win-win for retailers and consumers. The capability not only helps retailers combat fraud and packaging errors, but also serves as a bonus feature for two-thirds of consumers motivated by instant refunds.  

BOXpoll™ by Pitney Bowes, a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture, and ecommerce logistics. Conducted by Pitney Bowes with Morning Consult // 2200 US consumers surveyed January – December 2023. © Copyright Pitney Bowes Inc.

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