Small businesses that use Sendle for their parcels now have access to a new returns service from the delivery provider.

Launched on Friday, Sendle’s returns service allows customers to drop off parcels to be returned to retailers at designated locations, from local newsagencies, pharmacies, office supply stores, BP service stations and National Storage outlets.

There are a total of 900 drop-off locations for returns across the country, says Sendle’s newly appointed managing director Laura Hill, with some open 24 hours a day.

Hill tells SmartCompany the returns service has been introduced in response to demand from retailers.

“With record numbers of people shopping online, we were hearing first hand that returns can be a real challenge for small businesses, and time consuming,” says Hill.

Sendle recognised a growing need for a “seamless and simple” returns process, says Hill, with the company’s small business customers saying they “can’t afford to have any pain points when it comes to returns”.

Sendle will charge retailers per parcel to use the service, with retailers then able to decide whether they will pass that on to shoppers or alternatively offer ‘free returns’ by absorbing the cost.

Return slips are printed by retailers and supplied to customers, with Sendle only charging for the parcel once the label has scanned. This means some may choose to supply a returns label with the original purchase, to give customers the option of completing a return.

Retailers and customers will also be able to track their returns via the Sendle website, and access customer support services.

The Sendle returns service was trialed by a number of small businesses ahead of today’s launch, including online clothing retailer By The Creator.

The Sydney-based business has used Sendle since it was founded two years ago and co-founder Eli Walker says he jumped at the chance to trial the returns service, which he describes as “extremely easy” to use.

By The Creator offers its customers free returns and Walker says being able to include a returns slip when sending out a parcel “gives peace of mind”, especially for customers in regional areas.

This is the first time Sendle has offered a comprehensive returns service to its customers.

The Australia Post alternative now has more than 1 million customers globally, with the majority of those in Australia, and in 2021, saw a 98% increase in parcel volumes compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

While Walker says By The Creator has seen an uptick in customer returns during the pandemic — “with a larger sales funnel, you’re going to get more returns” — the business has focused on providing as much information as possible to customers before they purchase an item to minimise this.

“You want it just to be as streamlined as possible,” he says of returns policies. “As soon as it starts to become complicated, people just give up on it.”

Walker says having a clear, easy-to-use returns process could be the “difference between getting a sale or not having a sale”, and it can be the thing that convinces a hesitant customer to make a purchase.

Hill agrees that managing returns is going to become more important for small retailers as the e-commerce sector in Australia continues to grow.

“You can actually grow your small business by having a good returns process,” she says.

“Some may see it as an inconvenience but it is a genuine opportunity for brand building.”

Extracted in full from: Sendle launches “simple” returns service for small businesses (