Cover Story

The Season for Returns…

The Postal Service™ is greasing the wheels of its returns infrastructure, in preparation for the 2016 shopping season and the annual returns flurry.

This shopping season is likely to be even more hectic than last year, with double-digit growth predicted in online shopping. USPS®, for its part, is projecting a 12% increase in package volume this holiday season — roughly 750 million packages.

Once the sun sets on candles and tinsel, consumers will set about returning items that they ordered, or that were gifted to them, and as the number of items ordered online and shipped to consumers grows, so will the demand for easy and convenient return methods that will attract repeat business.

The Postal Service is game for the challenge. USPS has:

n Continued expanding its returns processing capabilities: A total of 15,868 Parcel Return Service Return Delivery Units (RDUs) across the country are available to pick up packages. This will aid in handling the volume and help USPS position itself as the returns shipping provider of choice in a crowded market said to be worth some $6 billion.

n Made it easier for businesses to insure returns with USPS: Insurance is available for up to $5,000.

n Created one universal returns permit: USPS has one universal permit that covers Parcel Return Service, Merchandise Return Service, Bulk Parcel Return Service, and USPS Returns®.

n Significantly enhanced Merchandise Return Service: MRS applies to three mail classes: First-Class Package Service®, Priority Mail®, and Ground Return Service. This simplified returns for the Postal Service and for its customers by eliminating less cost-effective options and streamlined the manual weighing and rating of traditional MRS parcels.

n Made Bulk Parcel Return Service (BPRS) an endorsement: This means that mailers receiving these return packages pay the per-piece fee, without paying postage fees. Consumers no longer are required to download and print the mailer’s BPRS label, which simplified the returns process on their end.

n Increased the volume for First-Class Package Service: Commercial customers with negotiated service agreements (NSAs) could now mail packages weighing up to one pound for a flat rate. This service targets merchants that ship high-value/lightweight products, such as jewelry or consumer electronics.

Return Labels

Return labels can either be included in the original order or requested via a merchant’s call center. Consumers need only affix that return label to the package, and present it at one of more than 31,000 Post Offices™, drop it in one of 160,000 collection boxes (if it meets aviation mail security guidelines), or schedule a Package Pickup at any of the available 132 million domestic addresses by accessing

The Postal Service also offers a number of options that help businesses create and deliver return labels to customers.

Businesses using Priority Mail Return Service, First-Class Package Return® Service, Ground Return Service, and Parcel Return Service can use the Print and Deliver application to order return labels; USPS will then create those labels and deliver them, along with return instructions:

n To one of the selected 31,000+ Post Offices;

n To a domestic address; or

n To one of more than 2,500 self-service kiosks, where consumers can print them.

Merchants can also instruct the Postal Service to hold the labels for pickup at a designated Post Office.

Click-N-Ship® Business Pro allows small- and medium-sized merchants to generate Parcel Return Service or Merchandise Return Service labels that will be:

n Included in the original shipment box;

n Available via the cloud platform;

n Available for self-service printing alone; and

n Available for self-service printing in batches.