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UPS Sets Up System to Track Returns

Internet: Delivery company's new service gives retailers and their customers a way to check the status of merchandise that has been shipped back.

September 21, 2000|From Bloomberg News

ATLANTA — United Parcel Service Inc., which delivers more than half the purchases made on the Internet, said it has developed an online system that makes it easier for consumers to return goods and saves retailers money.

The system, now available only through Internet marketer Buy.com Inc., differs from existing services by letting the retailer and the customer constantly track a return's status and speeding the entire process, UPS said.

UPS, the world's largest delivery company, declined to say how much revenue it expects from the service, which it plans to offer to a limited number of customers this year and more widely in the first quarter of 2001.

Merchants will pay a transaction fee and transportation charges once a returned package is received.

The return service will be offered only through companies that ship goods by UPS. It can be used both by business-to-business suppliers and those shipping goods directly to consumers, the Atlanta-based company said.

"Demand has been more significant than we anticipated," said Ross McCullough, UPS vice president of electronic commerce.

Buy.com, which sells 950,000 products ranging from computers to sporting goods, said return-related calls have fallen 40% since the company began using the UPS system in June. The system also has significantly reduced waiting time to return a product, the Aliso Viejo-based company said.

Handling fewer calls and reducing shipping mistakes has cut costs and increased customer satisfaction, Buy.com said.

The system allows a customer to print a merchant-authorized return label from a personal-computer screen on standard paper, reducing the time for receiving a label from about six days to about four minutes, UPS said.

It also provides maps to nearby locations where packages can be shipped through UPS. Packages also can be given directly to UPS drivers.

Information on the return form allows the product to be directed back to the retailer for restocking or replacement. If the item is defective, it's shipped to the correct manufacturer.

This ability to guide and track items sets the service apart from those that ship preprinted return forms with items, UPS said.

UPS shares rose $1.50 to $54 on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Buy.com fell 25 cents to $3.63 on Nasdaq.

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