In retailers’ fight against Amazon, it looks like there will soon be a new weapon that could help level the playing field against the online retail giant.
UPS on Tuesday said it will introduce UPS Returns Manager, a free online tool that allows ecommerce retailers, especially less well-resourced small- and medium-sized merchants, to not only customize their own shipment rules, but also manage return shipments without having to integrate their own IT systems.
For consumers, who in the past had to go to a retailer’s website to print a return label or use a label retailers include in package boxes, the feature allows them to now print a return shipping label directly from UPS.com’s tracking page both on desktop and mobile devices and through email alerts. Consumers can also print return labels at The UPS Store locations at no additional cost.
The service will be available in the US Aug. 14 and 43 other countries from UK to Brazil two weeks after that.
Why is this relevant? In the cutthroat ecommerce landscape where retailers are seeking to please increasingly demanding customers, the ability to meet the expectations of consumers accustomed to the straightforward return process available with retailers like Amazon can potentially affect shoppers’ purchase decision. It also gives retailers a better view of what’s being returned and plan correspondingly. Some retailers can also cut costs by skipping the need to place preprinted return labels in each box, UPS said.It’s another arrow in the quiver to pull.
“The idea for this was spawned from identification of the gap in the marketplace,” said Derek Banta, director of digital channel and mobile applications at UPS, in an interview. “We are bridging the gap between sophisticated and unsophisticated online retailers. Returns in the ecommerce world are a necessary evil, but not every merchant has a streamlined process and has figured out a way to simplify the process. We do believe that a meaningful and impactful return policy can help them increase sales. It’s another arrow in the quiver to pull.”
Banta said some UPS customers don’t even have a return policy. Some require consumers to call first about making a return.
The new program is a potential business-builder for UPS, too. Ecommerce shipment is a growing contributor to the company’s sales, and competition is getting fierce against rivals from FedEx to potentially even Amazon itself with its growing delivery ambitions. The Atlanta-based company said in July that US ecommerce deliveries fueled an 8.1% increase in Q2 domestic revenue to $9.75 billion.