FedEx Expands Package Returns System to Web

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FedEx Corp., Memphis, TN, yesterday unveiled enhancements to its FedEx Express package returns system, FedEx NetReturn.


FedEx NetReturn was introduced three years ago. It is the industry's first package return technology.


Beginning in November, the enhancements are designed to help businesses further streamline the returns process.


For example, for the first time, businesses using the new system can allow customers to request and receive an online return label that can be printed and attached to a package. The package can then be dropped off at any of the 44,000 FedEx Express U.S. locations.


When the return label is received online, customers are linked to the FedEx Express Web site at www.fedex.com, where a ZIP code can be entered to generate a list of drop-off locations as well as maps. Locations also are accessible through the company's 800-Go-FedEx voice response system. The service also offers customers real-time online tracking visibility and faster account crediting for returned merchandise.


Until now, the return service required parcel pickup by FedEx, which made the system inconvenient for some.


If an end customer prefers FedEx NetReturn's original dispatch service feature, a package return can be initiated by simply contacting the merchant's customer service department, which begins the return process. A FedEx Express courier then picks up the package at the customer's convenience, attaches the return label and ships the package to the location of the merchant's choice.


"Returns satisfaction is important to retain customers, and our new online label-printing feature makes this a very simple and convenient step for both businesses and consumers," said David Roussain, vice president of electronic commerce marketing at FedEx. "Because each label contains all the information necessary to initiate a return quickly and easily, businesses can process their returns more efficiently, and consumers benefit by receiving their credits even faster."


The improvements essentially match the features of an online returns system launched last month by rival United Parcel Service Inc., Atlanta. However, FedEx's service already is being used by more than 150 merchants. FedEx is hoping the enhancements will make its system more appealing to current users, such as Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard, and will fend off UPS when the parcel carrier rolls out its online returns system widely early next year.


The U.S. Postal Service also has a return-handling system, called Returns@ease, which is being used by at least two dozen merchants. But it doesn't include the same parcel-tracking capabilities that are offered by FedEx and UPS. A number of nondelivery companies also provide return-management services.
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