Return to Sender


Logistics innovations

If the last year has proven anything, many retailers are resilient in how they’ve continued their operations amidst the Covid-19 pandemic while having to close storefronts temporarily. Through online shopping and BOPIS (buy online pick up in-store) structured click and collect methods, retailers found an avenue to provide their customers with convenience, allow them to use technology seamlessly to purchase items, and collect at the nearest retail location.

The Challenge of Returns

What if an article of clothing doesn’t fit quite right, or the electronics store sends you the wrong device? With the current climate and the fact that most stores are only operating through online channels, the main challenge is providing customers with an easy way to return goods.

The upside to this is that the pandemic has accelerated the shift to e-commerce from traditional and physical retail, which means that customers are becoming increasingly more comfortable buying online and picking up their purchases in-store. However, due to limitations with online shopping, that is, not being able to physically see or touch the product or “buying to try”, there has been an increase in returned items.

Consumers may purchase multiple sizes or colors to try on at home and then have to ship the items they don’t want back to the store, with shipping paid for by the retailer, both ways in some cases. So the retailers’ challenge and business imperative are allowing customers to have a seamless and convenient return method.

The Key to Parcel Lockers Success

As mentioned in our previous blogs, Smart Parcel Lockers are starting to prove their worth as a cost-effective method for retailers to enhance the customer experience. Using Smart Parcel Lockers, customers who have purchased an item online can quickly retrieve their item from the store parcel locker. In addition, unlike many parcel lockers currently out in the market, returns are not accepted. This has proven, especially now, to be one of the most important aspects for retailers to enhance the customer experience.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been in that situation where we’ve purchased something online only to think about the hassle of having to return the item to the store or the post office – customers want and expect convenience from retailers. How retailers manage their returns will directly impact their sales and their customer’s loyalty. 92% of shoppers said they would purchase from the retailer again if the return process was seamless, and shoppers unhappy with the return policy are three times more likely to never purchase from that retailer again.

Understanding why shoppers return items and dealing with the logistics is a key issue that retailers are only beginning to tackle. Shoppers return 5 to 10 percent of what they purchase in-store and 15 to 40 percent of what they buy online. While not physically seeing the item accounts for part of the difference, consumers shop much differently online than in-store.

ParcelPort – Quick and Easy Returns

At ParcelPort, we’re busy developing Smart Locker solutions that streamline not only the process of order pick-up but also product returns. Like the drop-off process, where staff at the locker will scan the order and place it in the desired slot (after which our software sends notification to the customer via email or text), the return system is very similar and user-friendly.

Photo of a person scanning a package at a ParcelPort smart lockerScanning label on a package to be returned in locker.

The customer, in this case, will arrive at the locker and enter their return code (provided on their invoice or through other electronic means). A secure slot will automatically open, and upon deposit, a notification will be sent to the retailer (via email or an API event call) informing them of a return. This system greatly streamlines the process and the overall customer journey:

  1. Communication: Instead of calling customer service and asking how to return items and where to return them, the return process in this instance is seamless and allows the retailer to reduce staff costs.
  1. Inventory and tracking: The most challenging thing about returning items for a retailer is tracking the shipment, making sure it’s marked and returned to inventory, and ensuring that it doesn’t get lost on its way back to the warehouse. ParcelPort’s return software capabilities record all of this information. The unnecessary hassle of contacting a customer to ensure they returned the package is no longer part of the equation.
  1. Returns Management: A retailer who taps into ParcelPort’s growing network of public lockers can not only give their customers a closer access point and lower their shipping costs from the aggregation of those customer returns before they get sent back to their store or warehouse. Alternatively, if the retailer is in the vicinity of the locker, they can have a staff member go directly to the parcel locker, login, and pick up the returned merchandise themselves.

With a ParcelPort Smart Locker installed at your retail location, you’ll instantly have a feature-rich, scalable “Buy Online and Pick up In-Store” solution.

To learn more about how your organization can maximize smart lockers to reduce cost, increase revenue, and delight your customers, contact the ParcelPort team online by visiting or calling 1-800-818-0870.