May 21, 2024

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It's the Technology

Amazon expands customer return drop-off footprint in new deal with Staples – GeekWire

Amazon expands customer return drop-off footprint in new deal with Staples – GeekWire

Amazon customers can return products at some Staples stores, including this location in the Seattle region. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Amazon is teaming up with another competitor to expand the list of places where customers can return products.

The Seattle tech giant confirmed to GeekWire that it recently started allowing returns at select Staples locations.

Amazon did something similar back in 2017 when it began accepting returns at Kohl’s stores. The strategy lets the company grow its physical retail footprint for returns, without adding real estate.

We just tested the process at a Seattle-area Staples store, and it works much like other Amazon returns made at Kohl’s, Whole Foods or UPS Stores.

Customers bring their item(s) to the store and an employee scans a QR code provided by Amazon, then packages the product. Our experience was seamless and took 30 seconds.

“We are always innovating on behalf of our customers and identifying convenient solutions to shop and make returns,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “We have begun testing select Staples locations as drop-off points for Amazon returns.”

Consumers returned more than 20% of online purchases last year, or about $218 billion worth of merchandise, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation.

Amazon said that most items fulfilled by the company qualify for a free return option. Earlier this year it said most returns can be made without a box.

Amazon helped set the standard for free online returns but some retailers are now charging for returns with rising shipping and labor costs, Business Insider reported last month.

For Staples, the partnership may help increase foot traffic in its stores. Kohl’s said it added 2 million new customers in 2020 thanks to its Amazon partnership.

Earlier this year Kohl’s offered a $5 promotional gift for Amazon returns made at its stores.

Staples also offers UPS shipping services at its store. The company partnered with returns technology provider Optoro in 2020 to enable e-commerce returns from other various retailers.

Staples, a longtime office supply giant based in Massachusetts, was acquired for $6.9 billion in 2017 by Sycamore Partners. It listed Amazon as a competitor in a 2017 annual report.

Staples sells Amazon products including the Fire TV Stick, Echo Show speakers, and Fire tablets.