Manage your customers’ returns while they stay home

As the retail sector has been hit hard by the pandemic, there is a ray of light for the industry: ecommerce sales are buoyant. Both web-only and store-based retailers saw online sales increase by 53 percent and 56 percent from March 22 – April 4, finds new research from eMarsys, and carriers continue to deliver, safely, to our homes as consumers continue to buy.

Merchants know the positive impact of convenient returns on the overall customer experience, but physical distancing measures and a change in consumer behavior may require them to manage returns differently. For many consumers, dropping returns at a store is either no longer possible or not desired. A new poll from Morning Consult and Pitney Bowes found that 57 percent of shoppers surveyed say they have avoided going to a store since the beginning of the pandemic. When it comes to dropping off returns in-store, 44 percent would be unlikely or very unlikely to do so. Instead, consumers are more than happy to manage their returns from home.

Even before the social distancing measures were in place, 66 percent of consumers said they love home pickup for returns. Home pickup is three times more popular than carrier drop-off and four times more popular than in-store drop-off. 53 percent of consumers questioned in the Morning Consult poll are happy to pack an item for returning themselves and have the carrier collect from their home, and 36 percent have a printer at home that is easy to use if they were to print off shipping labels.

The good news is, online retailers can quickly and easily build this into their customer experience, even during the pandemic. USPS is still delivering to every addressable home in the US, and postal and shipping workers are deemed essential critical infrastructure workers, under guidance from the Department of Homeland Security. Importantly for consumers wanting to return goods, USPS is still operating at-home pickup services. This means that under current conditions, there are several different ways that merchants can offer a fast, efficient home returns service to their customers and adhere to any shelter-in-place mandates. With the right Parcel Returns Service solution, merchants can:

Include a pre-printed return shipping label with the package that consumers peel off, place on the box and leave for their postal carrier to pick up, or
Include a URL for consumers to go to in order to print their own shipping label and affix it to the box for their postal carrier to pick up

Free at home pickup was the most popular way to return online orders before the pandemic hit, and now it’s even more critical for the surge in ecommerce shopping taking place. USPS pickups can be scheduled via their website.

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