Cover Story

Growing the USPS “Returns” Business: Nobody Does It Better!

The Postal Service™ wants to be America’s “Return Shipper of Choice’’ and has a portfolio of return products that can meet the needs of merchants of all sizes.

A USPS® training video is now available for employees that is titled “Growing the USPS ‘Returns’ Business: Nobody Does It Better!”. This video emphasizes the processes for returns, improving the visibility of the shipments and the $3 billion worth of returns business.

After the holidays, consumers are returning gifts that they have received, along with all types of merchandise they have ordered and have decided to return for various reasons. The United States Postal Service® wants this business and has the infrastructure to support it. Whatever the reason, a “hassle-free” customer returns policy helps merchants win their first order and a positive returns experience earns repeat business.

eCommerce marketplace revenue is expected to grow about 9.5 percent annually through 2018 according to Forrester Research. Shipments to consumers are outpacing shipments to businesses. By 2018, total online sales in the U.S. are expected to reach close to $414 billion. As eCommerce shopping grows, so does the demand for user-friendly “Returns” solutions.

Why should customers choose the Postal Service for their “Returns”?

n Convenience: With more than 31,000 retail Post Offices™ throughout the U.S., we offer convenient choices for customers to deposit their return packages. We offer Package Pickup from the customer’s doorstep during regular mail delivery (132 million addresses) and conveniently placed collection boxes (approximately 160,000).

n Affordability: Merchants can better manage shipping expenses because USPS up-front pricing means no surprises. There are no surcharges or fees to print return labels. We offer ounce-based pricing for lightweight return shipments.

n Flexibility: USPS has convenient return shipping label printing options that can fit customers’ needs and has IT support capabilities. A return label can be made available with the order or a PDF image is emailed to the customer when requested. Through the Print and Deliver service, merchants can request that a USPS return label be delivered to their customer’s address by a USPS carrier, be picked up by their customer at one of 31,000 Post Offices or made available at one of 2,500 Self-Service Kiosks.

n Visibility: Our customers have peace of mind because they can track their return packages throughout the return process, resulting in fewer calls to their customer call center. The Intelligent Mail® package barcode (IMpb) on the return shipping label will be scanned as it is processed on postal equipment until it is delivered, providing up to 11 scan events.

n Options for Returns: The Postal Service now offers Priority Mail Returns®, First-Class Package Return®, Ground Return service, USPS Returns® — Scan Based Payment, Parcel Return service, Merchandise Return service, Bulk Parcel Return service and Business Reply Mail Parcels.

The USPS Returns Customer Guide provides customers with various options for returns. Requests for the guide can be made by sending an email to Look for upcoming “Returns” solutions by the Postal Service that will meet the needs of both consumers and merchants.