Keeping your customers happy is the number one rule of running a successful business.

That’s true all the way from their first interaction with your brand to the last – especially in cases where the post-purchase experience involves a return.

After all, in the ecommerce world, customer returns are a common and even expected part of the journey that merchants know they need to plan and budget for. As many as 40% of product shipments end with a return, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the customer isn’t a fan of your brand. 

When returns happen because a certain product is the wrong size or color, or the customer just wasn’t won over by the specific item, you still have ample opportunity to maintain a relationship with the customer – as long as you give them a best-in-class returns experience that encourages them to keep coming back.

Eighty-four percent of customers say that a positive returns experience would encourage them to shop with a brand again. 

One key element of a great returns experience is giving customers choices in how to manage their return – by giving them the option to take their item to a drop-off location rather than ship it back from home.

Why offer drop-off shipping?

Traditionally, if a customer wanted to process a return, they would need to request a return shipping label from your brand, and then repackage the item themselves – either in its original box, or in a new package. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds, especially if the item is fragile and requires special care with packaging.

Asking customers to re-package the item to send back is a source of unwanted friction – and it may keep some customers from even requesting or going through with a return of an unwanted item in the first place.

While this may seem like a plus initially (after all, you don’t need to refund the cost of the item if they never return it), it actually has a huge downside: If the customer gives up on the return and keeps the unwanted item, you’ve most likely lost them as a customer for life. 

That cost is likely to be much higher than the cost of the unwanted item. 

In order to maintain the customer relationship, it’s important to give them return shipping options that meet their needs – and for some customers, that means offering drop-off locations.

How does drop-off return shipping work?

If you offer your customers drop-off return shipping, they won’t need to find tape, bubble wrap, or a box to repackage the item. They can simply drop off the item at a certified drop-off location, scan their QR code, and be on their way, knowing the return is being processed. 

In many cases, you may even be able to issue their refund or store credit as soon as the item is scanned in, so that they don’t need to wait for your warehouse to receive it to receive their money back. Drop-off return shipping offers customers convenience and peace of mind. 

There are benefits for you as a merchant, too. Your drop-off center can package the items according to your standards, reducing the likelihood of damage or breakage during the reverse logistics process. You’ll be able to receive your returns in a larger consolidated bulk shipment, rather than in individual packages – saving on shipping costs and improving your sustainability efforts. 

So how do you do it? 

How to offer drop-off return shipping

If you sell items through FBA Amazon, you’re probably already aware of their extensive drop-off return shipping network. Amazon customers have the option to return items at home with a return shipping label, or they can visit a variety of nearby stores in Amazon’s extensive network –  Kohl’s, Whole Foods Market, UPS Store, or Amazon stores – to process their return with a package-free drop off.

If you’re a Shopify merchant, these options are available to you as well. You just have to work with the right returns management partner.

Here at Loop, we’re committed to anticipating Shopify merchants’ needs. And earlier this year, we realized box-less drop-off returns were growing in popularity among customers. That’s why we partnered with Happy Returns to handle packaging-free returns at a large network of over 5,000 drop-off locations throughout North America based at smaller retailers, known as Return Bars.

When a Loop customer needs to make a return, they’ll initiate it through our self-service platform, and receive the option to return the product for a refund or a seamless exchange. They’ll also get to choose whether to ship back the item from home, or to choose a Return Bar location.

If they wish to use a drop-off return location, they’ll receive a scannable QR code. They can then take the item to a nearby Return Bar, scan in the QR code, and drop off the item – and they’re done, receiving their refund instantly. No packaging or stress required.

Offering drop-off return shipping is a great way to help smaller ecommerce merchants compete with the giants like Amazon in delivering a superior customer experience – and ensuring that your customers will keep coming back and buying more after a successful return experience.

Want to learn more about our drop-off returns option? Check out Loop + Happy Returns.