Photo credit: Shutterstock
Online retailing has been a big beneficiary of COVID-19 and, by all accounts, even though the pandemic appears to be in its terminal stages, a sizable chunk of that gain is expected to stick.
While traditional retailers have been retooling and upgrading to capture more online sales, back in the shipping department an unintended consequence has been piling up—mountains of returns. And worse.
When the pandemic struck, for many retailers online was a response to a once-in-a-lifetime emergency. A year later, online has become an essential part of any retailer’s operations. But the solution is creating headaches that many companies were unprepared for. Free returns is the new normal, but returned goods are often badly packaged, damaged, or soiled and cannot be returned to stock. Stock is often returned to a different location than from where it was shipped. Not to mention the pernicious problem of fraud.
By some estimates, retailers have been seeing return rates as high as 40%.