Are You Embracing the Returns Culture?

Returns are causing a real headache for British retailers, with the likes of ASOS and Boden announcing a crack down on repeat returners. Often operating with small margins, the cost of processing returns can and is having a detrimental impact on revenues.

In our recent survey of online retailers we found that up to 25% of goods delivered during peak periods are returned. As a result, 20% of online stores have tightened their returns policy in the past 12 months and another 19 per cent plan to do so, according to stats put out by Barclaycard recently. Read the report here.

The issue with managing returns however, isn’t just dealing with the serial returners. Retailers need to be looking at their warehouse systems to ensure that they’re operating as efficiently and effectively as possible as a way to decrease the impact of returns on revenues.

Automation, for example, can help minimise order errors – one of the main reasons for returns. Ensuring that goods are tracked, recorded in the putaway and picking functions of the warehouse using automation removes potential for the mis-delivery of items. Warehouse management systems are also great tools to generate data that can be used to analyse shopping behaviour and help consumers make better buying decisions, as well as understand why items are being returned.

But it’s not just improving traceability of goods that can help. The speed of dealing with returns is also key. Investing in controls and automation allows retailers to maximise available space while processes such as sorting become much faster and more consistent increasing the volume of goods being moved through the warehouse. This helps retailers to manage the volume of returns more efficiently.

The reality is that returning items is very much part of the online shopping experience. Rather than blaming consumers, ensuring that warehouse systems can process and deal with returns can help to minimise the impact on rising costs and decreasing revenues.