Managing Returns with Automation

Managing Returns with Automation

Merchandise returns are a challenge to eCommerce, yet a necessary part of the process. There is a lot to understand to keep up with customer expectations and the innovations in technology that can help to make the return process more manageable.

As the volume of shipments continues to rise, the rate of the merchandise being returned rises also.  In 2021, the National Retail Federation reported that US shoppers are expected to return more than $761 billion worth of goods purchased in that year. This trend is reflected in the 2021 report from IMRG which found that a quarter of all consumers return between 5% and 15% of items they buy online.

There are a plethora of challenges facing eCommerce in regard to returns.  Not only is the volume of returns rising, but customer expectations continue to evolve, and customers do not want to pay for returns. A 2021 eCommerce survey revealed that many shoppers check the returns policy before placing an order. 40% say they will not order a product unless the return period is at least 30 days. 74% of respondents also stated they would not order at an online store if they had to pay for the return themselves.

Another challenge facing eCommerce in regard to returns is sustainability. Longer return times and issues with storage and infrastructure combined with the fact that it makes no financial sense to return lower-value items are impacting negatively on the sustainability efforts of merchants.

Here is an outline of the return process where we can see the pain points for eCommerce:

  • Generation of return labels
  • Receipt of return and accurate sortation to enter it back into inventory
  • Update of order status
  • Issuance of refund
  • Notification of customer

Reverse Logistics chart

So, what options do eCommerce merchants have for efficient returns?

  • Highlight your return policy upfront.  Clearly state your expectations throughout the purchasing process to ensure that they are understood by the consumer
  • Automate your return label by either including a return label with the shipment or providing a digital option to print one out
  • Get the right technology to manage the receipt of the return and accurate return to inventory. Technology today can set shipping rules and automate processes that save time and money while diminishing costly errors with shipping and managing returns.
  • Automate the order status update with the issuance of the refund and notification of the customer.

ABCO Systems has years of expertise in streamlining reverse logistics with automation, sortation, and storage optimization. Click the ABCO box below to find out how we can help you handle your specific reverse logistics needs.