Turn Dropoff Returns Into Profitable Sales
With minimal effort and great customer service, Kristina Culbertson and Barry Pfeiffer, two of your FedEx Authorized ShipCenter® (FASC) peers, have increased their business — and their bottom line — by assisting customers with dropoff returns.
As CEO of Post-Haste Mail Center in Arcata, California, Kristina sees dropoff returns as a way to market her store’s services to new customers on a more personal level. “We look at [these transactions] as a small extra source of income, but mostly we look at it as a way to bring traffic into the store and let people know what we do,” she says.
The same sentiment holds true for Barry, director of store operations at The Mail Box Store of Illinois. “One of the most common things that we hear when people bring in dropoffs is, ‘Oh wow, I didn't even know that you guys were here.’” He hands them a brochure with a list of the store’s services. “It’s a chance to establish a good rapport,” he says.
Going the Extra Mile
A recent challenge online customers and pack-and-ship stores are trying to work around is Amazon’s new returns process. Online customers are given a QR code instead of a shipping label and instructed where to bring their return packages for shipping. So when these consumers walk into a ship center, they’re frustrated when they’re told the stores can’t scan the code and that they must bring the package to a Kohl’s store or another carrier’s location.
Instead of turning these people away, Barry and his Mail Box Store teams show the customers how to generate a shipping label that can be printed at home or in-store for a small fee. “Customers appreciate that we take the time to show them how to do it,” he says.
Kristina solved the QR code problem for her customers by getting in touch with Amazon to get a return label generated. It can be easily done via the Amazon app, she says. Even when the process isn’t instantaneous, customers enjoy the convenience of resolving the issue in-store. “They’d rather take the 10 minutes contacting Amazon in my nice, cool, air-conditioned store, rather than getting on the freeway and driving 15 minutes to the next town to try to sort it out.”
As with any shipment, part of processing dropoff returns means employing some caution. The same process for outgoing shipments applies to return packages, as far as collecting the package at the counter and asking some necessary questions.
Kristina recommends checking the value of the return item. “Make sure that they’re not shipping something exorbitantly expensive and holding you accountable for that cost,” she says.
Knowing what’s being shipped is even more critical when it comes to safety. “The main concern is the dangerous goods because we are responsible for any dangerous goods that come across our counter and so that makes liability fairly high,” Kristina says. “Especially with the way lithium batteries have been handled lately — those are a huge fire hazard now. We’ve had to be especially aware and careful of those.”
The Mail Box Store has a counter mat next to the register, listing what can and can’t be shipped. “We’ll refer them to it and ask if their package contains any of those items,” Barry says. “[We need to make sure] they’re not sending anything that's illegal, dangerous or hazardous — mercury, lithium batteries, perfume, that kind of stuff.”
Barry explains, “We try to help the customers understand we’re not trying to be nosy or get into their business. It's we just want to make sure that everybody's going to be safe and everybody gets to go home at the end of the day.”
How else can a ship center go about converting a returns customer into a returning customer? The Mail Box Store has found a clever way to incentivize coming back. When people drop off a return shipment, they receive their tracking number on a postcard, which also contains store information and coupons.
Around tax season, shoppers might receive a discount on paper shredding or document scanning services, while around August, there might be deals for back-to-school supplies. “The postcard is additional advertising for us. It also gives the customer that moment of, ‘Oh wow, this is not what I was expecting to get when I asked for a receipt,’” Barry says. “We’re here to be helpful and be of service for customers, and we’re willing to go to whatever lengths we need to get that done.”