Every business owner has had this happen to them at one time: you’re expecting a delivery, or maybe just sent one yourself, and the delivering company either calls or leaves a note stating that your parcel is being or has been returned to the sender. What does this mean? Why was your parcel returned? Is it something that you did?

In 2020 alone, over $550 billion worth of deliveries were returned back to the senders. To help you avoid this unpleasant situation and the related losses, in this short and to the point article, we have compiled a list of the common reasons why you can have a package marked return to sender, and what you can do to prevent this from happening.

What Kind of Parcels Do Businesses Send?

Parcels make up a surprisingly large part of what businesses deliver.

Businesses find that sending parcels to their customers is an invaluable way of building and maintaining customer relationships. Clients like to receive gifts, even if they are just looking at the product range and prices.

Customers appreciate being sent promotional goods as they establish long-lasting bonds with the brand. For example, some businesses have sent moisturizing face masks to customers who have ordered a new skincare kit from their website or an engraved pen to their existing clientele to market a new product.

Also, businesses often use eCommerce platforms to sell their products and services. In fact, according to research, eCommerce is one of the fastest-growing US industries, highlighting a $4.28 trillion industry as of 2020. When customers transact with these businesses, they have to get their purchases somehow, which is where shipping and delivery come in.

Businesses send all kinds of packages as part of their day-to-day operations and to enable eCommerce transactions. This is why a package marked return to sender can be quite disappointing for all parties involved.

return mail

Furthermore, companies that have people working remotely can send parcels to their remote employees as part of the remote employee onboarding process when they start. They also sometimes send parcels to remote workers as remote work instructions.

Ecommerce sellers want to give their customers a great shopping experience, and companies want to make work easy for their team members, which is why a parcel returned is never a good thing.

Why Do Couriers Return the Package to the Sender, Before Arriving at The Customer’s Address?

A package marked return to sender is a parcel that has been returned back to the owner.

These returns often occur when the address is incorrect or not complete. Other times delivery may be delayed due to out of office, or high volume times at the post office. Plus, there are instances of misdelivery or complete incompetence that lead to a return to sender shipping cases.

There may be situations where these circumstances are dependent on the delivery regulations or the country's regulations regarding what can be included in the package, or the address provided.

Let’s look at some of the situations that may lead to a delivery being returned back to where it came from:

Wrong or incomplete delivery address

An incomplete or wrong address might be one of the most common causes why parcels are returned to the shipper. This can happen with couriers, e.g., UPS, FedEx, USPS, and even postal services. The post office or courier service will have no way of delivering it accordingly, and when this happens, that parcel automatically becomes a return to sender package.

To reduce the likelihood that your shipment gets returned to the shipper, please double-check your address before you ship, and where possible, work with a delivery company that provides tools for address validation.

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The package was ref by the recipient

When the parcel is delivered to the destination, it has to be accepted by the recipient. If the recipient rejects the delivery, then the delivery service will return it to the sender. This happens when a person does not agree to receive the item because of many reasons.

One reason could be that the recipient no longer wants the item. Another reason could be that the package was not delivered in good condition. It could also be because what was delivered was not what the recipient requested. Or maybe it was a late delivery for a time-based project.

Some recipients may even refuse to accept their packages for no apparent reason. All these mean that the package will have to go back to the sender.

Also, a parcel can become a return to sender package if the recipient is not available to accept it. After a parcel has been delivered, someone needs to sign the delivery slip. If they refuse to sign or fail to do so at that time, the delivery will be returned, and you will have to collect the package from the sorting office.

Unsuccessful delivery

Parcels sometimes can't be delivered. Sometimes, parcels can be delivered to the right address, but the delivery is not successful. There are many reasons why this could have occurred, such as the receiver is not available, the recipient’s contact number cannot be reached, and so on. Regardless of what the problem is, the delivery will have to go back to where it came from.

A recipient who is not at home or cannot be reached could result in unsuccessful attempts. When that happens, the courier usually leaves a notification that an attempt was made.

Subsequent attempts at delivery are usually made on most unsuccessful delivery parcels, and in the unlikely event that further attempts are unsuccessful,  the delivery is tagged as return to sender meaning that it will be returned to the sender.

The package contains items that are prohibited

If you are sending restricted items, there is more chance that your parcel will be returned rather than delivered.

If you get a notification that your parcel was returned to the shipper for “reasons unknown,” it’s likely that one of the items inside the package is prohibited. The phrase “items that are prohibited” means different things for different companies. Some examples of prohibited items are Alcohol or Ammunition.

Countries impose certain restrictions on what they will allow to be shipped. This applies to both people sending a parcel and people receiving a parcel. Generally, the reasons for prohibited items are related to health and safety, and these countries issue severe penalties if an attempt is made to mail forbidden items.

return to sender

How Can Businesses Prevent Getting a Package Marked Return to Sender?

Receiving a parcel back to the sender by the post office or courier service is a stressful thing that every e-commerce business dreads. This can be avoided if you put in some work on your end. Some steps you can take as a business to prevent this situation are:

  • Verify that the delivery information is correct
  • Create a provision for alternative contact information in the event that the delivery information is incorrect.
  • Be sure that you are not shipping restricted items
  • Verify that the recipient will be available to receive the parcel on the day of delivery before sending.
  • Ensure that the item being delivered is what the recipient wanted.
  • Use the Inkit platform.

How Inkit Can Help

You probably have thousands of addresses in your database, but are they all correct? If not, it's costing you money.

Incorrect addresses mean that parcels can be lost or designated return to sender meaning that you will not only likely lose money on failed deliveries, but your brand reputation could also take a hit.

To avoid this, you need a tool to auto-complete and validate addresses with high accuracy before sending to customers – Inkit does just that.

Using Inkit Verify, you can auto-complete and validate shipping addresses before sending them to customers, eliminating wrong-address inefficiencies. Inkit Send integrates with your CRM and existing tools to automatically deliver direct mail and other types of printed customer communications based on specific actions or events. This way, you can set up the triggers for initiating the print and delivery, and check all the tracking results and campaign metrics in your CRM.

Inkit was designed to help companies manage their own logistics operations in the most efficient way possible. Through the Inkit platform, you can provide your customers with automated and secure shipping address validation and timely parcel deliveries.

You can imagine the benefits of this technology being applied to parcel delivery. Instead of making one last-ditch attempt at delivery that may or may not be successful because a package is misdelivered or the package marked return to sender mistakenly, addresses can be confirmed using an address verification service before shipping products. Thanks to Inkit, businesses can now easily deliver all packages to their intended recipients.

If you have been on the lookout for ways to reduce or completely eliminate failed deliveries and package returns, you are on the right page. Inkit was designed for you and businesses like yours.

Find out how Inkit can make package delivery easy for your business today.

Start a free trial to see how it works.

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