In a growing e-commerce market, IPC has developed a solution that responds to the needs of postal customers and consumers alike: a simple returns process for cross-border e-commerce. The solution, called the IPC Easy Return Solution (ERS), was launched in 2010 and is currently being implemented by 25 postal operators.

IPC’s ERS enables posts within the E-Parcels Group (EPG) to offer distance sellers a priority postage-paid international return service for their customers. This leads to increased parcel volume, attracts e-business and avoids over-labelling costs for postal operators, without any operational changes.


What does ERS mean?

IPC’s Easy Return Solution (ERS) is a returns service enabling postal operators within the E-Parcels Group (EPG) to collaborate on returning cross-border parcels to e-retailers. In simple terms, it allows e-customers in country A to return goods to e-sellers in country B free of charge.

How does the ERS work?

For the e-customers: the ERS is the simple way to return purchases bought online from a seller located in a foreign country. The distant seller provides the e-customer with a return label. All the e-customer needs to do is to drop the unwanted purchase at a post office or indicated facility together with the dedicated ERS label provided by the e-seller.

For the postal operators: the ERS is based on a double barcode label, one for the accepting or despatching post and the other for the authorising post receiving the returned parcel. The labels are generated by IPC in a direct interface with authorising posts using the ERS system. ERS is based on the IPC-managed E-Parcel Group network and uses the same agreed barcode, facilitating a smooth and no-risk implementation at low costs.

The service allows authorised returns to be accepted at postal counters without payment, and then returned through the postal network to the distant seller which authorised the return.

What are the main characteristics of ERS parcels?

  • Priority postage-paid product
  • Tracking & tracing capability
  • Usage of a standard ERS label
  • Handling in the reliable EPG network
  • Supported by a full Global Customer Service Solution

How many postal operators offer ERS service?

Currently, 25 postal operators have subscribed to the service and working to implement it. 

Do customers have to pay for the return?

The return is free and customers will not be asked to pay for posting the ERS item.

Both the ERS label and the postage of the unwanted purchase are free of charge for customers.

Why should a postal operator join?

Attract new business

The concept allows posts to offer distance sellers a priority postage-paid international return service to their customers. This enables them to attract e-business by offering distance sellers an extended product portfolio and sell ERS as a combined service to gain new export and import volume.

Benefit of the reliable E-Parcel Group (EPG) network

This fast, traceable and reliable solution uses the E-Parcel Group network. This allows an easy implementation without operational changes to be performed by the posts.

Dedicated monitoring, reporting, track & trace

E-sellers and e-customers can easily obtain track & trace data on the returned parcel via their post website.
Moreover, IPC offers dedicated performance and billing reporting capabilities for ERS items to posts involved as well as a Customer Service for inquiries if needed.

What do participating postal operators say about ERS?

Boris Mayer, Senior Vice President


“The value of the Easy Returns Solution to business customers is plain to be seen from the figures that speak for themselves: within months we had rolled out the solution to over 1,000 business customers – so the demand is clearly there. A returns solution is critical to the business model of many customers, especially certain e-retailers, such as those in footwear or apparel. From Deutsche Post DHL’s perspective, the Easy Returns Solution is important as an additional revenue stream from the return flow itself but much more importantly as an accelerator of our export market business.”

Laurie Doe, International CEP Product and Relationship Manager – Europe


“International e-retailing has, of course, seen rapid growth over the last couple of years, and having a returns service has become more and more important to consumers and therefore to our customers. As this becomes a more important part of their service and costs, they increasingly want a standardised returns service from one single supplier with one single IT interface. The ERS project allows us to offer them a standardised service across an increasing number of European countries.

The fact that the ERS service taps into existing operational, technological and financial processes managed through IPC is a considerable benefit to us. It facilitates a smooth implementation of services and has reduced the amount of development work that we would have had to do internally with many different functional teams.

What is more, the existence of quality of readily-available service reports makes the matter of process performance analysis and cause identification of any problems quicker and easier to put into place. Our European export services are split into specialised B2B and B2C options, and I see this service as a valuable addition to our B2C portfolio. We launched the service to the UK market a few months ago and customers both large and small can see the value of the proposition, and increasing numbers of them are signing up."