Simon and Narvar have teamed up to introduce drop-off returns at certain Simon locations, according to a Tuesday press release.
Customers can now select a nearby Simon location on the Narvar platform to return products from about two dozen retailers.
The partnership with Simon expands Narvar's drop-off network to almost 80,000 locations, the company said. According to Narvar's website, Gap, Athleta, Vera Bradley and Levi's are among the brands that use its service.
In announcing the partnership, Simon's Senior Vice President of Innovation and Customer Experience, Andy Hutcherson, pointed to its properties as "a town square destination" for customers, with this offering helping to make the malls more valuable for customers, especially as they look to avoid multiple trips in the midst of the pandemic.
"Offering a variety of services at our properties helps consumers consolidate errands and save time, driving incremental visitation to our properties," Hutcherson said.
According to Narvar's own research, a decent chunk of shoppers are interested in alternative return methods. One-third of consumers used an alternative location for dropping off their last return, and 30% to 40% of them said the convenience of location and store hours drove their decision to do so, according to the release.
Returns could prove critical this year, as more shoppers turn online for their holiday shopping. The push online is also leading to shipping delays as carriers become strained. Per another Narvar report released in October, more than a third of survey respondents indicated that they had experienced substantial shipping delays.
Outside of Narvar and Simon, others are also preparing for a potential increase in returns by engaging in returns partnerships. Last month, FedEx partnered with Happy Returns to let customers return goods at more than 2,000 FedEx Office locations across the country. With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting in-store shopping, retailers will have to prioritize addressing shipping delays, returns processes and other digital shopping difficulties more so than in years prior.
For Simon, the Narvar partnership comes as the mall owner resumes its merger with Taubman, albeit at a lower price. Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management's deal to purchase J.C. Penney was also recently approved in court,