The space for etailer tools has been heating up recently. There’s an eBay service, eBay Valet, that will list your products for you and an analytics tool, Terapeak, that provides data about the amount your products can sell for online.
There are also tools like Chirpify that help you sell your products via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. And, for those uninterested in selling on the big sites, there are also a ton of small eCommerce store options out there.
But one of the latest innovations has less to do with selling than with the all-important customer service aspects of product shipping — and returns.
Etailers often provide free package return for customers as an added service. In fact, free return shipping is becoming the expected norm (with 51% of consumers wanting free return shipping as identified in the graphic below), from merchants selling online.
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But, while the option is popular with customers, it’s expensive for shippers, particularly if those shippers use the United States Postal Service (USPS) to deliver their products.
You see, placing a U.S. Postal Service return label on shipments means absorbing the cost of the return whether a customer sends back their order or not. And with only an estimated 10 percent of orders resulting in returns, this ends up being a considerable additional cost.
Major USPS competitors FedEx and UPS already provide an option for return shipping that charges only if there is an actual return.
The USPS does offer it’s own version of this service, said Emma Johnson, director of marketing for shipping software provider Endicia in a recent phone interview with Small Business Trends.
But to qualify up until now, shippers have needed to guarantee at least 10,000 returns per year. That’s well beyond the ability of many small eCommerce businesses, especially those just starting out.
FedEx and UPS may offer viable alternatives cost wise for sellers shipping bulkier items of 15 to 20 pounds or more. But for those shipping products less than 5 pounds, their cost does not justify the savings on returns, says Johnson.
That’s why she says Endicia has developed a Pay-On-Use Returns label in partnership with the Postal Service. Once downloaded, the software allows shippers to print out the new Endicia return label or email it to customers allowing them to print it out for returns, Johnson added.
Endicia already provides a wide variety of software and other products for eCommerce sellers, warehouse shippers and other businesses.
Johnson said the product was developed as a result of the company’s 25 year relationship with the USPS as a software provider. She explained:
“For us it came down to, the Postal Service has so many great products. How do we make them work more easily?”
The software was also a result of the company’s own experience as an eCommerce shipper of printers and other products from its online supplies store.
The new Pay-On-Use Returns label will be rolled out officially on July 1, 2014 and will be available to Endicia’s Professional and Label Server accounts. Or you can contact the company for more information.