Customer experience platform Narvar and Walgreens are working together to provide package pickup and returns at more than 8,000 Walgreens locations that have FedEx OnSite services.
It's the first offering in the platform's new "Narvar Concierge" suite of solutions for brick and mortar, according to a press release from the companies. Retailers on the Narvar platform can offer customers an option to pick up orders or drop off returns at any location in the Narvar Concierge network. Those customers can select a Narvar Concierge location during checkout or when making a return, including at the FedEx OnSite at Walgreens locations, according to the release.
Nordstrom is also piloting that new pick-up and drop-off service in Los Angeles, which is its largest market and home to its merchandise-free "Local" concept store, according to the release.
Narvar is among several post-purchase solutions and logistics companies that have conducted research demonstrating how returns have surged along with the growth in e-commerce.
The company last year found that 77% of consumers want easier ways to return packages, 41% regularly order more than they'll keep in order to try things out, and 40% think returning online orders to stores is easier than dealing with shippers. E-commerce return rates are three to four times higher than rates for brick-and-mortar stores, according to another return solutions firm, Happy Returns.
As legacy merchants stoke their digital channels, they're not immune to increases in returns. And most don't really need to be told that as they've boosted their e-commerce sales, they're also escalated their returns. Retail analyst Natalie Berg, founder at NBK Retail, told Retail Dive last year that she thought more retailers would have made progress by now, and calls the problem of returns "a ticking time bomb" for this year.
"Most legacy retailers are in the undesirable position of responding to, rather than leading, change. You have these very agile retailers coming in, disrupting the status quo and exponentially raising customer expectations," she told Retail Dive in an email. "Consumers now expect delivery to be fast, reliable and free. Click and collect has become a prerequisite and shoppers have come to expect free returns. The customer has never had it so good – but this has added a lot of cost and complexity for retailers."
Tapping Narvar for this service is just one of the partnerships that Walgreens executives said during their most recent conference call would be a hallmark of their business strategy going forward.
"Customers are continuing to redefine value and convenience, and this is another way in which we can provide a differentiated retail experience, by offering more simple and time-saving solutions," Alex Gourlay, Co-COO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. and president of Walgreens, said in a statement. "We're leveraging new and different platforms as well as our expansive footprint to bring more services closer to our customers while giving our partners greater reach and access in communities across the U.S."