Simplifying parcel returns, a key issue for e-commerce

Online shopping is popular these days, delivery flows have accelerated considerably in recent years. However, if sending large volumes of parcels is becoming commonplace today, returning them seems much more complicated for buyers. In fact, according to an FIFG survey published in June 2022: 89% of French people said they faced real obstacles in returning their parcels. However, there are solutions to streamline this essential process and enhance the customer experience.

As logistics tends to become one of the most important sectors of the French economy, French e-commerce players must be efficient across their entire value chain and offer an impeccable customer experience, from purchase to return. But appearing sometimes as thoughtless, sometimes as knowingly overlooked, the return package still represents a source of frustration for electronics buyers who remain dissatisfied with return terms, when they exist.

However, this is a central issue for the relationship between an e-merchant and its customer as this practice is becoming more and more widespread. Indeed, 39% of items ordered online are returned, 67% of buyers consult the return conditions before ordering an item and 51% of them have already abandoned an online order due to unsatisfactory return conditions (FIFG, June 2022). This is, therefore, proof of the demand for a quality of service expected by all, which must integrate practicality and simplicity.

Accelerate the use of automated order lockers and an open network

To simplify parcel returns, the use of connected and secure lockers is a suitable solution. They make it possible to achieve operational excellence by optimizing the costs and resources needed for the management, distribution, collection and return of orders.

They also have the ability to bundle the flows of all e-commerce and logistics players. Its operation adapts to the needs of each actor through a use that can be dedicated, mixed or shared. By grouping many packages at the same distribution and collection point, some locker network operators promote a more environmentally friendly and collaborative delivery model.

This deposit solution for shared use between different players, therefore, can only be applied with an open flow management network. Indeed, where major delivery players use a closed network of parcel lockers to uniquely process and optimize their own flows, a shared solution that simplifies returns for all consumers would be a huge step forward!

A virtuous circle for the entire value chain

The principle of delivery and collection from shared or shared parcel cabinets requires good coordination between stakeholders: network operators, logisticians, carriers, e-traders and merchants, consumers. This approach would represent a considerable step forward for the sector and would contribute to improving purchasing and delivery conditions for everyone. This would finally contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of the entire sector, the target of numerous criticisms on the subject, given its environmental impact associated with its exponential economic growth, its wide and ever faster delivery options… At the same time, consumers are particularly on the lookout for eco-responsible delivery options and expect better on the latter point.

The shared-use order lockers and this network, open and accessible to multiple players, make it possible to carry out a large number of deliveries and collections at a single point. This significantly reduces the environmental impact associated with e-commerce, as last-mile delivery is now responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of urban traffic.

Thus, we no longer think about the logistics of the order only until the last kilometer but also taking into account the first kilometer of your return! The entire value chain of the e-commerce sector would gain not only in efficiency, but also in attractiveness for consumers, as well as for all its stakeholders. So what are we waiting for to implement these solutions?

Tribune written by Aurélien Simon, PLS Product Manager at Quadient

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