Is free at-home pick-up of online returns practicable?
Walmart on Monday announced a partnership with FedEx to offer customers complimentary at-home pickup of returns for merchandise bought online.
Although the intro is timed to handle holiday returns, Carrier Pickup by FedEx will be a year-round offering, Linne Fulcher, Walmart’s VP of customer strategy, science and journeys, said in a blog post.
Customers schedule a date for pickup and print a return label through Walmart’s website or app. Their package will then be picked up by a FedEx employee.
Customers without a printer can select “Drop off at FedEx” as the return method to get a QR return code and then take their package to a FedEx location, where an associate will scan the QR Code and print a free return label for shipping.
Walmart has specified spots in stores for customers looking to return items while observing social distancing. The return process can be started online before heading to the store.
“Combined with a year unlike any other, we knew it was time to look at our return policies and processes to ensure they were safe and headache-free,” Mr. Fulcher said.
Holiday returns are expected to spike this year. According to a recent report from real estate firm CBRE in collaboration with reverse logistics software provider Optoro, holiday returns are projected to surge 73 versus a five-year average. The growth is being attributed to the sudden growth in online buying and online’s significantly high return rate, up to 30 percent on average.
The study said as much as 400 million square feet of additional warehouse space could be needed in the next five years just to process returns. The report also noted that, for the average return, reverse logistics costs amount to 59 percent of the original selling price of the item.
On December 17, Amazon announced an extended holiday return policy and “no-box, no-label” returns at over 500 Whole Foods locations. The option is also available at Amazon Books, Amazon 4-star, Amazon Fresh, Amazon Go, UPS Store locations and Kohl’s. Walmart has also extended its standard return policy.
- ‘Tis the Season for Hassle-Free Returns – Walmart
- U.S. Industrial & Logistics ViewPoint: Reverse Logistics Stress Test 2020 – CBRE
- Amazon Offers Customers Free, Convenient and Easy Returns at More Locations This Holiday Season – Amazon
- U.S. needs more warehouses to handle record returns this holiday and in coming years, CBRE says – CNBC
- How can retailers avert a holiday returns catastrophe? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does picking up returns from households for free hold significant appeal for consumers and is it an economically feasible strategy for retailers? Are there other steps retailers should be taking to better manage online returns?