Managing product returns has always been a headache for retailers. The e-commerce boom only increased that pain and pressure. Call it buyer’s remorse, but when customers can’t see, touch and try on merchandise before they buy, they’re more apt to return it. The proof is in the numbers: By some estimates, online return rates average anywhere from 20% to 30%, versus about 9% for in-store sales.
For retailers that were already letting returns pile up in a corner of their warehouse or DC pre-pandemic, the sudden onslaught of online ordering that happened in early-2020 and hasn’t really let up yet was further proof that they needed better returns management processes.