Canadian shopping centre owner Cadillac Fairview continues to find ways to enhance customer experience during the COVID-19 pandemic with the latest being the launch of a new service for returns of online and in-store purchases.
It has partnered with ReturnBear to offer an improved product return experience for customers across the country with what is being called a first-of-its-kind experience — offering the ability to return items from a number of retailers at once, either at a single drop-off location at a CF shopping centre or shipped back together in a single box to a ReturnBear processing centre.
Jose Ribau, Executive Vice President, Digital & Innovation of Cadillac Fairview, said the company is trying to make the shopping experience more seamless.
“As customers have purchased more online during the pandemic one of the pain points that we have been noticing and hearing from our customers is returns and the sheer number of returns that they have to manage,” he said.
“ReturnBear specializes in consolidated reverse logistics which is basically handling returns on behalf of retailers and allowing for a customer to either ship their returns directly or drop them off at a location and essentially remove that pain point from having to worry about that themselves.”
The app for the service also has a plug in for Shopify.
“Much like all of our efforts in helping retailers recover we decided that this is not just available to retailers that are members and our tenants of our properties. But we also believe that third party sellers, customers who have websites who sell directly on Shopify to consumers directly, these are small and medium size businesses who have to deal with returns. We’re basically saying we can bring scale,” said Ribau.
“If a customer instead of them worrying about shipping labels, if they want to drop them off at the kiosk we’ll be launching that in the coming months and they’ll be able to drop them off. So it’s also available for direct-to-consumer brands. And you might ask why would we do that? We’re Cadillac Fairview, we’re in the business of real estate. The reality is some of those brands may end up benefiting from having a physical presence some day and we want to help them succeed. So if they get to know us and they get to trust the products that we partner to deliver, we hope they will be successful and grow and ultimately if they need a store then we want them to consider us.”
Sal Iacono, EVP of Operations, Cadillac Fairview, said the company is helping alleviate the costs associated with returns.
“At CF we’re always looking to offer solutions that bridge the physical and digital worlds to make the customer experience better, and we are thrilled to bring this service forward as a way to help retailers based at our properties and beyond,” he said.
According to a recent ReturnBear Canadian shopper survey, over 75 percent of Canadian shoppers would prefer a one-stop, multi-retailer location that provides on-the-spot refunds versus going to the post office to ship back individual returns.
The service has now launched with a mail-in option, in which customers can combine returns from participating retailers into a single shipment to a nearby ReturnBear hub, where returns are batch-processed on behalf of retailers at a lower cost than their existing practices. Later this year, ReturnBear will launch in-mall drop-off locations at CF centres, eliminating the need for customers to pack and ship returns, and providing quicker refunds. Consolidating returns has the added benefit of reducing the environmental footprint of individual shipments, improving the sustainability of ecommerce.
“We saw an unmet need in the Canadian market to help retailers and Direct to Consumer brands ease the pressure of product returns, while improving their reverse logistics operations,” said Luke Chamberlin, GM at ReturnBear. “Our partnership with CF provides a unique opportunity to begin offering this service to both physical mall retailers, as well as ecommerce brands set up on the Shopify platform through our free plug-in.”
With ReturnBear retailers can:
- Execute their return policies consistent with existing in-store and ecommerce practices;
- Access returns analytics to help them identify patterns and improvement opportunities;
- Reduce reverse shipping costs by receiving batch shipments of resellable merchandise back to stores or distribution centres; and
- Provide customers with faster refunds and a painless process that will keep them coming back
CF plans to place ReturnBear kiosks throughout CF properties to help facilitate convenient returns while also helping retailers reduce their reverse logistics costs and operational challenges.
“In a year of unforeseen retail challenges, CF has introduced several technology-enabled services focused on delivering innovative, safe and efficient consumer-centric solutions to drive retailer support; including the personalized product discovery app LiVE by CF, virtual queuing tool CF Guest List, food ordering portal CF Eats; and now, a more simplified returns service with ReturnBear,” said Ribau.
“We’re trying to help both on the discovery and ultimately after the sale as well. We’re trying to be as close as we can be to what Amazon does for all of their electronic store fronts, we’re trying to do for the physical store fronts. Improve the experience from end to end. Now we’re talking about returns. So when you stitch this all together there’s an interesting narrative there about services to help remove friction,” he added.