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Innovations in the postal sector. Episode 4: returning online purchased goods

A retenir

The biggest challenge in e-commerce today is to get the offline part right : delivery and returns

One crucial challenge of e-commerce today is to manage the offline part, i.e. the delivery. Yet, not all customers order right from the first time; nor are they protected from malfunctions, defects, and the like.

Getting returns right (and free-of-charge) has become a must for e-tailers as this impacts the overall customer experience. Read here the fourth episode of our series on innovation in the postal sector (you can access past episodes by clicking on the following hyperlinks : episode 1, episode 2, episode 3).

Episode 4 : how to return high tech products hassle-free

Retour services for high tech products

We already discussed in this blog the importance for e-tailers to provide free delivery and free retours. Mega e-tailer Zalando has based its business model on it (despite a tremendous growth, profits are still not there however).

French express delivery specialist Chronopost (La Poste) is launching a complementary service, Zengo, to allow for retour in the guarantee period. Zengo is aimed at transporting high-tech products between customers and manufacturers for repair or exchange. A special canvas bag reinforced with polypropylene foam will serve to carry the good and will fit any size of high-tech product. Traceability is of course ensured through a barcode and a seal is placed to avoid loss. Manufacturers provide a letter of transport that just needs to be printed by the customer and attached to the bag. This is an existing way of doing things so Zengo is only kind of standardizing things.

Zengo positions itself as a service quality touchpoint that will increase customer satisfaction and enhance the customer experience in case of malfunction. A pilot was carried out with Acer and Nintendo across 3,000 Pickup Services points in 2013. The market is estimated to 4 to 20% of the 100 millions high-tech items sold each year in France. Needless to say it’s a huge niche … Some 23% of consumers had to send back a faulty high-tech product over the last 12 months.

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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