Wrong color, wrong size, a duplicate item whether it be shoes, clothing, jewelry or books, there are many reasons a customer may need to return an item shipped to them.

Returns are an important part of a customers overall mailing experience, and its important for merchants to always keep them in mind. As it may be difficult to predict the number of returns they will receive, merchants need to make the process as quick, easy and convenient for customers as possible. Thats where Merchandise Return Service (MRS) with the U.S. Postal Service comes to the rescue.

First, a merchant obtains a Merchandise Return Service annual permit from the Postal Service. The next step is to set up an advance deposit account. The postage for the merchants MRS processed items will then be automatically deducted from that account. One of the many advantages of using MRS is that the account will be charged only for the number of labels used not the number of MRS labels distributed. MRS also may help businesses streamline their reverse logistics processes.

The merchant also has the option of adding Delivery Confirmation service to their MRS labels. By allowing customers to track items through the returns process, Delivery Confirmation offers them more visibility of the items being returned and the added satisfaction of knowing when delivery occurs.

Completing the mailing experience with MRS has never been easier, says U.S. Postal Service Marketing Specialist Dean Davis. A customer may receive an MRS label within a shipment, by fax, or by downloading it from a merchants website.

Putting the Practice into Action

One company that has found a unique way to use Merchandise Return Service and get extra books off their customers hands is BlueRectangle.com, an online business that buys and sells new and used books.

Co-founders Michael and Joy Johnson began by selling items online in 1997 and found a growing market for buying and selling used books. To give BlueRectangle an edge in the marketplace, they decided to buy directly from the source the customer and use MRS to have the used books shipped to their warehouse.

MRS allowed them to create an efficient way of dealing directly with customers, while making book buying and selling as easy as possible. The easier the process is for a customer to return an item, the more likely they are to buy from us again in the future, says Michael Johnson. The customer must package their books before they ship them, but with an MRS label they print online, the process is very convenient.

Joy Johnson agrees, MRS has really made our return shipping easier. With all the postage linked to one account, we can easily monitor our shipping costs, she says. Its also great customer service its simple and economical for both BlueRectangle and our customers. Additionally, the Johnsons are impressed with the visibility that the Postal Service provides by delivering to every residential and business address in America six days per week.

USPS Marketing Specialist Louis DeRienzo says MRS gives the customer a range of choices. Merchandise Return Service completes the shipping circle by giving our customers a quick, easy and convenient way to manage their returns, he says. With MRS, the customer can choose from First-Class Mail, Priority Mail and Package Services, giving them cost and time-in-transit options to customize MRS to their business needs.

Choosing Priority Mail service with MRS ensures faster returns, which means faster processing. When a customer needs an item returned, and an MRS label is already included in the package, they are more apt to shop with that particular company again and again proving that good return practices can make for return customers.

Dean Davis is a Product Development Marketing Specialist at the U.S. Postal Service in Washington, D.C. He began his Postal Service career in 1995 as a letter carrier in Fort Meade, MD. He also has worked as a retail distribution/window clerk, distribution operations supervisor, post office supervisor and retail marketing program manager.

Louis DeRienzo is a Package Services Marketing Specialist at the U.S. Postal Service in Washington, D.C. He began his career as a letter carrier in Haworth, NJ and also has held positions as a customer service supervisor, postmaster and district retail manager.