By the end of 2017 the value of retail returns will be the equivalent to total online sales: around $440 billion. These skyrocketing return rates are due primarily to the growth of ecommerce and buyer expectations of no-hassle, cross-channel return policies. What’s more, the majority of the merchandise doesn’t go back on store or virtual shelves and ends up sitting in a warehouse, taking up space, costing money and depreciating in value until someone decides to do something about it. Typically this would involve selling truckloads of it to a single liquidator at a rock-bottom price. This is a major problem for companies, many of which are fighting for survival in an increasingly competitive and volatile retail environment.

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