USPS Makes Returns Easy
The United States Postal Service® continues to make improvements to its returns infrastructure to prepare for the annual season of holiday returns.
This shopping season is likely to be even more hectic than last year — with the major shift to online retail in 2020, retail eCommerce sales will continue to grow by double-digits. As the number of items ordered online and shipped to consumers grows, so will the demand for easy, convenient return methods that attract repeat business.
The Postal Service™ is ready for returns in the following ways:
- Continued expansion of our returns processing capabilities. A total of 12,654 active Parcel Return Service Return Delivery Units and 167 Return Sectional Center Facilities across the country are available for picking up packages. This helps USPS® handle the volume and better positions us as the preferred returns shipping provider in a crowded market estimated to be worth about $6.1 billion.
- It’s easier for businesses to insure returns with USPS. Insurance is available for up to $5,000.
- Offering one universal shipping permit. We have one universal shipping permit that covers Parcel Return Service, USPS Returns®, and outbound products.
- Significant enhancement for USPS Returns. USPS Returns applies to three mail classes: First-Class Package Service®, Priority Mail®, and Ground Return Service.
How to Obtain Return Labels
Return labels can either be included in the customer’s original order or requested though a merchant’s call center. Consumers then affix the return label to their package and mail it using one of the following options:
- Take it to one of the 31,000 plus Post Offices nationwide;
- Drop it in one of 140,000 plus collection boxes (packages must meet aviation mail security guidelines); or
- Go to usps.com to schedule a Package Pickup, which is available at 44,422 ZIP Codes.
The Postal Service also offers a number of options that help businesses create and deliver return labels to customers. Businesses that use First-Class Package Return® Service, Priority Mail Returns® Service, Ground Return Service, or Parcel Return Service can choose the easy-to-use label generation tool, Merchant Returns Application for customers. Either on their own or with the help of call center agents, customers can:
- Generate a ready-to-use return label.
- Print the return label or have the label emailed to them for printing later.
- Schedule a Package Pickup directly on the Merchant Returns web page or by scanning a QR code at the bottom of the label with their iOS or Android mobile device.
- Locate the nearest Post Office™ using the PO Locator on usps.com or by scanning a QR code at the bottom of the label with their iOS or Android mobile device.
The USPS Web Tools Returns Label Application Programming Interface (API) helps customers receive USPS Returns service labels, which are processed using the new automated returns process via Package Platform. USPS Returns service account holders are responsible for paying the postage and fees through an Enterprise Payment System account so that items can be returned by their customers (at no charge to their customers) using merchant-provided USPS Returns service labels.
The API allows users to request USPS Returns service labels for items that can be mailed using First-Class Package Return Service, Priority Mail Return Service, and Ground Return Service. For more information, use the following resources:
- Main returns web page at usps.com/business/return-services.htm.
- For USPS Returns service information, visit federalregister.gov/documents/2020/02/25/2020-03170/usps-returns-service.
- For details about USPS Web Tools Returns Label API onboarding, technical documentation, and features, visit usps.com/business/web-tools-apis.
Customers can also access and use the Merchant Returns Application:
- A link on the merchant website directs consumers to the USPS Returns customer-facing page to create labels.
- The merchant call center agents use the USPS Returns call center-facing page to generate and send labels to customers.
- Merchants use the USPS Merchant Returns API to generate labels.
A customer using the customer self-service page or the call center will be asked to provide their address, shipping information, and choice in label delivery (printable PDF pop-up window or email message). Customers using the USPS Merchant Returns API will have the same easy-to-use label generation experience with the merchant’s custom look, specifically tailored to fit the merchant’s needs and products.
For more information about getting the Merchant Returns API, access the User’s Guide at
Businesses that create their own return labels may also distribute them to customers via the Label Broker™. Designed for customers without a printer, the Label Broker allows merchants to store labels in a secure USPS repository; customers may then print labels at their local Post Office or at usps.com. For more information about Label Broker, visit usps.com/business/label-broker.htm.
Stay tuned for new returns enhancements in 2022!
— Shipping and Commerce Product Management,
Business Solutions, 12-30-21