Highlights:

  • Amazon confirmed that it’s testing select Staples stores as in-person drop off locations for product returns.
  • Staples also sells Amazon-branded products, in stores and online, including the Echo, the Fire tablet, Fire TV Stick and accessories.
  • If the partnership expands to all Staples stores, it will give Amazon about 1,000 more customer touch points in 45 states.

Insights:

The initiative with Staples – a retail competitor with a national presence – further expands Amazon’s reach for the company’s 300 million active customer accounts.

Amazon spokesperson Lauren Samaha confirmed the pilot program with Retail Dive. “We are always innovating on behalf of our customers and identifying convenient solutions to shop and make returns,” Samaha said in an email. “We have begun testing select Staples locations as drop-off points for Amazon returns.”

A spokesperson for Staples declined to comment on the initiative.

Most Amazon items delivered in the U.S. are eligible for free returns, with most items sold or fulfilled by Amazon eligible for return within 30 days of receipt of shipment. Amazon also said its standard returns window will be temporarily extended until Jan. 31, 2023 for most items purchased from Oct. 11 through Dec. 25 in the U.S. 

E-commerce sales have a high rate of returns, and, without a large store footprint of its own, Amazon has turned to partnerships to accommodate them. In 2019, Amazon partnered with Kohl’s to accept returns. In 2020, Kohl’s CEO said that the initiative drew more than 2 million new visitors to its stores. A third of them were millennials.

Customers can also return Amazon items with no label or packaging at more than 500 Whole Foods Market locations, along with more than 120 Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh, or Amazon Style locations. Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017.

Amazon Counter and Locker+ locations also are available for returns. Customers who choose this option either pre-package their items or use free packing materials offered onsite. Finally, Amazon has also partnered with UPS to offer no box, no label returns. UPS says it has more than 5,100 U.S. locations. Customers also can drop off eligible items at their office or apartment complex mailroom.

Overall, U.S. consumers returned $761 billion worth of merchandise in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation. About $218 billion worth of online purchases were returned, according to the NRF.

Source: Retail Dive