With the rise of e-commerce, more consumers are buying products online, and the number of returns has increased significantly. Online shoppers can only see, touch or try the product after purchasing it, which can lead to more returns as the product may not meet the customer's expectations or fit their needs. In the U.S., consumers returned products worth $428 billion in 2020 — just over 10% of total retail sales; the National Retail Federation estimated the cost of returns amounts to $101 billion.
Returns challenge retailers, resulting in lost revenue, increased operational costs, and inventory management issues. According to the retail survey in 2022, for every $100 in returned merchandise accepted, retailers lose $10.40 to return fraud. However, a well-managed returns process can also help to build customer loyalty and satisfaction, as it provides a way for customers to feel confident in their future buying decisions. It also can power sales as customers are more likely to purchase if they feel confident that they can easily return a product if they are unsatisfied with it. According to ICSC, for online sales with Buy Online Pick-Up In Store (BOPIS) and Buy Online Return In Store (BORIS) services, retailers can expect a net sale increase of 107%.
Automating returns can be incredibly beneficial for businesses of all sizes. Automating the returns process can reduce the time and resources needed to process returns, improve customer satisfaction and help companies reduce costs associated with manual processing, such as labour, shipping, and restocking fees. NRF reports that 84% of consumers will choose to return an item to a store as opposed to shipping it back to the retailer.
One effective way to automate the return process is using parcel robots or return lockers. Technology company Cleveron, which has many large retailers in their portfolio, have returns automation solutions. By automating returns, retailers can offer customers a more convenient and flexible way to return items and reduce the need for customers to interact with staff members, which can help to reduce wait times and improve the overall shopping experience. As more retailers adopt this technology, return lockers and robotic solutions will likely become increasingly commonplace in high-traffic areas, making it even easier for customers to return items and receive refunds or exchanges. Returns process automation also helps to free up store associates’ time, allowing them to take on more necessary tasks.Overall, retail returns automation can help retailers to reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and streamline their operations. By using technology to simplify and streamline the returns process, retailers can provide a better customer experience and gain a competitive advantage in the market.
Cleveron AS is an Estonian technology company developing parcel robots and terminals with more than 15 years of experience in parcel delivery technology. Cleveron's solutions are used in 51 countries around the world, and the company's customers include world-renowned retail and logistics companies. Among others, its solutions are used by Inditex/Zara, Falabella, UPS, and DHL.