Local Pittsburgh Startup PorchShip Removes the Hassle of Online Returns

Social distancing restrictions have increased online shopping, a trend that is likely to continue for months. Lots of online shopping means that returns either have to go to a physical store or packaged and dropped off at UPS or FedEx. Online shopping is great, but the returns process can be a hassle.

This month, I had the opportunity to test drive a new service called PorchShip. PorchShip was created earlier this year to help solve the hassle of online returns and give a little extra time back to busy families. Says creator and founder Evgeny Kostromskoy, “from my own experience, my wife buys a lot of stuff online, particularly Amazon. We have to stay home [because of COVID-19], we don’t do a lot of in-store shopping, [but] every time I would drive to Oakland to drop off my packages or returns, it’s a hassle every time. A huge waste of time.” I agree!

How PorchShip Works

When you need to return an item you bought online, whether it was from Amazon, target.com, oldnavy.com, or most other online retailers, there is always a process: print the shipping label. Assemble the package. Drop off the package. Maybe wait in line at the store, or the post office. PorchShip solves that.

With this service, you simply go to their website: porchship.com. Click ‘Schedule Pickup.’ Then, the service prompts you to enter the pickup address using Facebook Messenger.

They send you updates and screenshots every step of the way. Once your package is picked up (within an hour) it goes straight to wherever it needs to go. In my case, I had a return for Amazon that needed to go to a UPS drop off station.

They also just debuted a Chrome extension that works exclusively with Amazon returns. The Chrome extension is great because you don’t have to print anything at all. Once you process the initial return on Amazon, simply click on the PorchShip extension, and the pickup is scheduled. Good to go. The Chrome extension capability has also been extended to save Amazon’s QR code, which means making returns to Amazon no longer require printing anything.

You can also read about PorchShip in the Post-Gazette here. They wrote about his journey as a local tech startup and his mission and vision in founding the company, as well as his role in the spring 2020 cohort of Startup Boost.  

Benefits of PorchShip

What’s nice about PorchShip is how easy it is to use. There is no app to install and it’s as simple as leaving your return on your front porch. You can even let them package it (for a small fee) – another time savings. They were great about sending me immediate updates every step of the way, and within an hour of my package being picked up, Amazon had started the return process on their end.

PorchShip operates all over the city. Evgeny is based in the East Hills, and I am in the South Hills. Yet, they still delivered on their promise of a pickup within an hour.

Another thing I like about PorchShip is that it’s entirely local. Evgeny is a Pittsburgh dad with a young son who knows firsthand how inconvenient online returns can be. His full vision for PorchShip is to connect with independent delivery drivers around the city to handle the pickups. They would receive a commission for every pickup they do, increasing their income. He has talked to drivers through GridWise and they are anxious to try it.

It’s also secure. They use Stripe, a well-known third-party payment system, to collect customer payment information. There is no cash to exchange, and it’s a contactless pickup. They don’t store anything or collect any personal information. I researched Stripe independently and sure enough, it has extremely solid security for handling third-party data. One of their current customers in Point Breeze has remarked that PorchShip “is such a great idea.” They work with her a few times a week for returns, which is a testament to their reliability and ease of use.

One of the things that I immediately thought about when using PorchShip was the upcoming holiday shopping season. We do a lot of our shopping on Amazon in normal years; this year, I imagine even more of our Christmas shopping will move to online stores. With PorchShip, I won’t have to worry about the returns process.

It’s really cost effective, too.

  • $1.50 per package for pay-as-you-go
  • $3.00 per package for pay-as-you-go, with packing and printing services included
  • $9.00 per month for up to 10 packages a month

They still have some spots left for early adopters who want to use the service before it’s rolled out on a larger scale. To sign up, you can visit their website at www.porchship.com.  

I would definitely use PorchShip again, especially as birthdays and holidays are right around the corner. It was so simple, and I really enjoyed learning more about Evgeny and his family. They’ve lived in Pittsburgh for over ten years, and also spend a lot of time outdoors in the parks like we do. If you decide to sign up with PorchShip, you can also look forward to spending more time outdoors and with your family, instead of stressing about online returns.

This was a sponsored post, but the opinions and firsthand experience with the service are entirely my own. Feel free to ask a question in the comments if you’d like more info on any part of the process!

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Julia Germeyer
Julia is a lifelong writer, part-time adventurer, and lover of good wine and carbs. She lives in the South Hills with her family: a husband, two littles, and two cats, and the oldest child is in the Army. She owns a digital marketing consulting firm and was also an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Pittsburgh. Julia has an MBA from Point Park University and a Bachelor's degree from Pitt. She enjoys hanging out with her family, traveling to new places, Wheel of Fortune, and sleep. If she had a superpower, it would be to fly: traffic jams would be a thing of the past.