It’s no surprise that ecommerce has exploded this year. Online retail sales have grown by 40 percent this year to $234 billion and $70.5 billion of these purchases are expected to be returned. During the holidays, it is estimated that 30 percent of customers will return what they purchased online. Reverse logistics and returns can be expensive processes and taking shortcuts can generate waste. This means the efficiency of your reverse logistics program is more important than ever this year.
Online retail sales have grown by 40 percent this year to $234 billion and $70.5 billion of these purchases are expected to be returned.
Preparing your reverse logistics program for increased online returns
Processing online holiday returns involves several more steps than in-store returns. This means you need to factor in the cost of things like pickup, handling and multiple touches as items move back into your inventory. An increase in returns means more inventory coming back, which increases the demand for space in warehouses and distribution centers. As we are seeing increased returns, it’s important to remember that making the holiday returns process easy for your customers is key to ensuring a positive customer experience. This might mean including return labels in initial shipments for ecommerce purchases so your customers can mail them back, or even allowing them to return in-store purchases by mail. Even if you are using your in-store pickup infrastructure to process ecommerce returns, make sure you prioritize flexibility such as expanding the return windows due to the pandemic to make sure your customers have a good experience. Remember that when done well, you can actually increase customer loyalty with a great returns policy.
Be prepared for fraudulent holiday returns
While most returns are due to things like incorrect clothing sizes or misrepresentation of items, there are quite a few fraudulent returns that happen during the holiday season. In fact, in 2018, up to 9 percent of holiday returns were fraud, costing retailers $6.5 billion. Fraudulent returns can include returning stolen merchandise, purchasing clothing with the intent to wear and return it, employee return fraud, returned goods bought with fraudulent payment, and several others. Returns occur throughout the year, but during the holidays, studies show that almost 77 percent of consumers plan to return a portion of their gifts.
In fact, in 2018, up to 9 percent of holiday returns were fraud, costing retailers $6.5 billion.
Fraudulent returns can be costly, so it’s important to understand how to protect yourself. Some of the best ways to be prepared for fraudulent returns are to ensure your ecommerce platform has fraud protection on the front end, be sure you include tracking numbers with each order and to require that everyone who wants to return an item provides a receipt or invoice. Having a favorable return policy is very important, but it’s equally important to ensure you are protecting yourself—especially during the holidays.
Partner with a 3PL to help with holiday returns
Many retailers are expected to rely on 3PLs after the holidays to help handle the surge in holiday returns. The extra support will help them efficiently move returns back into inventory, send products back to vendors for credit or sell them to other retailers or customers. The increased reliance on logistics partners has made 3PLs the largest demand driver for warehouse space in the United States. There have been widely reported capacity constraints that 3PLs are facing during peak season, but expanded networks are expected to benefit retailers when it comes to processing returns.
The increased reliance on logistics partners has made 3PLs the largest demand driver for warehouse space in the United States.
ITS Logistics can help with your holiday returns reverse logistics program
With this year’s ecommerce holiday returns expected to set records, it’s important that you are prepared to handle the increased return volume. At ITS, we have expertise in ecommerce reverse logistics and ecommerce returns to help ensure that your products are quickly added back into inventory and your customers have a great returns experience. We also deal with massive peak seasons for various customers throughout the year. We understand that holiday returns are a very important part of your supply chain and we do everything we can to ensure they are executed efficiently. Learn more about how we can help today!