With the USPS® Informed Delivery feature, businesses can easily connect the physical and digital worlds, allowing consumers to see what will be arriving in their mailbox through the Informed Delivery app, email notifications or dashboard.
Through these channels, users can also access digital content that complements your mailpiece. Whether this content includes promotions or interactive experiences, consumers can engage easily from a mobile device, laptop or desktop computer.
Let’s explore the process from start to finish to see how you can put Informed Delivery campaigns into action.
The Informed Delivery Feature, Step‑by‑Step
Your business creates a direct mail campaign.
You provide USPS with the ride-along content you wish to include in your Informed Delivery campaign.
“Ride-along content” refers to complementary content associated with your mailpiece, such as a promotion or newsletter sign-up.
You send out the direct mail to your targeted list of consumers.
Any recipients signed up for the Informed Delivery feature will be alerted of the incoming mail. They’re able to see a digital preview of the letters in their mailbox that day, plus any ride-along content.1
45% of Informed Delivery users responding to a survey said they act on digital promotions distributed via Informed Delivery notifications and other digital channels more than once a month.2
The recipient clicks on the ride-along content, which lives below the preview of your mailpiece.
The recipient returns home to open the direct mailpiece in their mailbox.
In a survey of users utilizing the Informed Delivery feature, 92% said they view notifications every day or almost every day.3
Make an Impression—Three Times Over
The Informed Delivery feature gives businesses three opportunities to connect with consumers—and, ultimately, convert them into loyal customers.
The consumer checks the Informed Delivery app, email or dashboard and views the preview image of their mailpiece.
The consumer interacts with the ride-along content—whether a link to an exclusive discount or an event sign-up.
The consumer opens the physical mailpiece at home and responds to any included offers.
By combining physical mail with engaging digital content, Informed Delivery campaigns help keep your brand top of mind, driving customer action when it matters most.
Learn more about the Informed Delivery feature at https://www.usps.com/business/informed-delivery.htm
With the increasing competition in ecommerce, retailers that offer free shipping, dependable deliveries, accuracy, and free return shipping are potentially more likely to attract customers than those that don’t. While free shipping is an obvious perk, a recent survey discovered that the majority of respondents also consider free returns an important factor in their ecommerce purchase decision.1
53 percent of respondents said they would pick one store over another if the store offer free returns.2
34 percent of respondents revealed they would only purchase from a store if they knew they could return or exchange for free.3
Why Do Customers Love Free Return Shipping?
Aside from the obvious cost-savings, free returns can provide customers with a sense of security. A study found that in 2015 Americans returned more than $260 billion in goods.4 When customers know they don’t have to pay for return shipping, it allows them to be more indecisive, which is particularly useful when shopping online for clothes, shoes and accessories where there are multiple options, sizes, etc.
Companies That Offer Free Returns Boost Customer Satisfaction
By offering free returns, brands convey that their customers’ interests are top of mind, which can help brand loyalty and lead to repeat business. Given the potentially high costs associated with acquiring new customers versus keeping existing customers, companies are smart to consider free return shipping as one way help to increase sales.
Shipping and Returns Can Be Costly for Retailers
However, offering free shipping and returns can be a significant financial undertaking for businesses. Retailers not only have to cover shipping costs, they also need to staff people to inspect returned packages, and if items are damaged, the company will need to pay money to repair or write them off. Additionally, return delays could affect inventory.5 All of these costs add up, which is perhaps why among the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, only 13.2 percent of companies offer free returns.6
How to Incorporate Free Return Shipping on a Budget
Free return shipping isn’t a deal breaker. Here are a few strategies that companies can employ to meet their customers’ needs while being mindful of costs:
Be strategic on when you offer free return shipping. Since nearly a quarter of returns occur over the holidays, consider offering free return shipping during windows with lower return volumes.7
If you choose to offer free return shipping, be economical by selecting the most cost effective return option. Of note, it’s unlikely that customers will be concerned about speedy shipping when returning an item unlike when they are receiving an item.8
Use free return shipping as a marketing tool to gain repeat customers.9 This especially works well with retailers selling clothing, shoes and accessories. When customers know they don’t have to pay for returns, they might order multiple items as options and end up keeping more than one.
Remember that free return shipping isn’t the only way to keep customers happy. If your business builds a trustworthy reputation through reliable delivery, your business can still be competitive without undertaking the costs associated with free return shipping.
While offering free return shipping may contribute to building brand loyalty and a competitive advantage, it’s important to evaluate if it makes sense for your business. There are multiple routes to achieving customer satisfaction without breaking the bank. To ensure long-standing success, always think strategically and economically, while keeping customer needs top of mind.
When it comes to meeting customer demand, responsiveness is the name of the game. A Ship from Store (SFS) system allows companies to address these escalating needs by putting their unused store stock to use. With the right strategy, your business could be on its way to servicing more and more customers. So how do you successfully implement such a system? Below we highlight the most important steps to take, from planning to setup.
Dedicate the time and space.
Not all of your business’s physical locations need to have SFS capabilities, but the ones you choose to include in your SFS system must have the space to facilitate fulfillment operations. Consider selecting locations that will enable fast delivery and, if possible, enable packages to reach customers in 1 to 2 days. Once you decide the on stores, section off an area for fulfillment purposes alone and establish how and when merchandise will be picked and packed.1
Set up the necessary systems and technology.
A critical part of SFS is managing inventory. With the right order-management system, you’ll be able to treat stores as fulfillment centers and efficiently use the stock they have to manage demand near real-time. That way, when an order comes in, the right store can be notified and begin the picking, packing and shipping process.2
Train your in-store staff to have warehouse skills.
Your store staff will need to learn the ins and outs of this new operations process. Teach them how to accurately pick, pack and ship inventory – without taking away from their primary job of selling merchandise and servicing customers.3
Deliver an omni-channel experience.
Maintain consistency with your warehouse-based operations, by keeping your packaging uniform regardless of shipping origin. Invoices, return labels, etc. should follow suit. With a consistent brand experience, you can bridge omni-channel gaps between customers, stores and distribution centers.4
Leverage the services of integration specialists.
When you utilize the USPS® for shipping services, our representatives can help you launch and refine your own SFS system. Operations Integration Specialists and Technical Integration Specialists can help guide you through setup, transportation, equipment, payment and processing systems, assessing how to use your locations efficiently and addressing any first-day issues that may arise—all free of additional charges.5
As more consumers expect products to be constantly available, it’s important for businesses to pivot and adapt to meet their demands. With the right strategy and resources, your company can implement a successful SFS system and start answering more of your consumers’ needs.