If the last year has proven anything, it’s that many retailers are resilient in how they’ve continued their operations amidst the Covid-19 pandemic while having to temporarily close storefronts. Through online shopping and BOPIS (buy online pick up in-store) structured click and collect methods, retailers have found an avenue that not only provides their customers with convenience but also allows them to use technology seamlessly to purchase items, and collect at the nearest retail location. The challenge? 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 here 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. 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 colours 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. The retailers’ challenge and business imperative is 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. By using smart lockers, customers who have purchased an item online can quickly retrieve their item from the store parcel locker. Unlike many parcel lockers currently out in the market, most are not set up to process returns. 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 who are unhappy with the return policy are 3 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 they do 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 product returns as well. Like the drop-off process, where staff at the locker will scan the order and place it in the desired slot (after which a notification will be sent to the customer via email or text), the return system is very similar and just as user-friendly. The customer, in this case, will arrive at the locker, enter their return code (which can be given to them 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 having a customer call customer service and ask how they can return their items, where to return them etc., or even going further by directing them to a “Returns” webpage, the return process in this instance is seamless and will allow the retailer to reduce staff costs. 
  1. Inventory and tracking: The most difficult 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. With ParcelPort's returns software capabilities, all of this information is recorded. The unnecessary hassle of having to contact 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 but also 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, log in, 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. Contact us today to learn more!