When it comes to online returns, the stats aren’t pretty. Consumers return 30% of ecommerce purchases and a study from Shopify reveals that 40% of consumers buy variations of a product online intending to send back most of the order. In many cases, returned items cannot be put back on shelves due to product obsolescence (this is especially true with fast fashion and technology items) or slight wear and tear. This ever-increasing number of online returns is causing profits to take a massive hit.
While 2019 saw a rise in retailers cracking down on serial returners and implementing a more efficient and sustainable approach to the handling of returned and excess stock, the issue isn’t being solved at a fast-enough rate. Retailers need to look closely at how they manage returns, the value of which could reach $400 billion this year—not including inventory losses or restocking expenses. Artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) being among the latest kinds of technology retailers can use to meet the challenge.