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FedEx to offer Amazon-like, box- and label-free online returns

FedEx Consolidated Returns
No box or label will be needed for select online returns at approximately 2,000 FedEx Office locations. (Photo: Business Wire)

FedEx is taking its competition with Amazon to the area of e-commerce returns.

Starting in early 2023, FedEx will launch FedEx Consolidated Returns in the U.S., a solution designed to provide a low-priced, easy e-commerce returns option that retailers offer their customers. FedEx will facilitate the offering through supply chain services offered by FedEx Logistics and its FedEx Office brick-and-mortar store chain.

[Read more: FedEx prepares ‘logistics as a service’ platform]

Shoppers who make online purchases from participating retailers can drop off the items they wish to return, with no box or label required, at approximately 2,000 FedEx Office locations. The returned items will then be consolidated with other returns from a variety of retailers in an effort to save materials and space.

The items are then processed through FedEx Logistics and sent back to the retailers via a less-than-truckload shipping option. According to FedEx, this consolidated returns service may reduce carbon emissions compared to single prepackaged/prelabeled returns, as items for return are consolidated into one box before being shipped to returns center.

FedEx has also been accepting online returns of the Happy Returns in-person returns service at select FedEx Office locations since October 2020.

FedEx has been actively competing with Amazon in everything from electric delivery vehicles to providing hosted e-commerce services, as well as piloting self-driving vehicles for linehaul trucking operations and integrating two Salesforce cloud solutions into its ShopRunner e-commerce platform.

Now, the leading parcel delivery provider is preparing to directly challenge Amazon’s streamlined customer returns process. Amazon provides thousands of free drop-off options for millions of items sold on its site, with most customers having at least one free return option included on goods purchased on its site in the U.S.

After getting a QR code from the Amazon Return Center, customers can hand items for return to an associate without a box or label, and the associate will then pack and ship it for free. Amazon makes free, no-box returns available at locations including its own physical stores, as well as its Whole Foods Market grocery chain and third-party partners including Kohl’s and The UPS Store.

“As the returns market grows, FedEx continues to explore innovative alternatives for our customers. While this solution will provide a low-priced returns option for merchants, it’s also a simple, convenient process to help retailers deliver a shopper-friendly experience,” said Ryan Kelly, VP, e-commerce & retail marketing, FedEx Services.

“FedEx Consolidated Returns is another way FedEx is helping merchants build customer loyalty by making the returns process simple and effective, said Patrick Super, VP, retail, FedEx Supply Chain. “Having a streamlined but low-cost option helps retailers stand out in a competitive market and adds to the overall returns portfolio at FedEx.”

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