Costs Still Running High For eCommerce Returns

Online retailers face significant logistical and financial challenges due to the high cost and increasing number of eCommerce returns, says a report from a Pitney Bowes’ BOXpoll survey. The survey of medium- and large-size digital and omnichannel brands says online returns cost retailers an average 21 per cent of order value, with several brands reporting ratios considerably higher. The financial burden is compounded by the fact that eCommerce return rates are at historic highs – an average of 20.8 per cent in 2021 versus 18.1 per cent in 2020. The survey says 70 per cent of retailers are actively trying to lower the cost of returns by addressing transportation and/or processing costs. However, this goal is complicated by shared accountability for returns strategies. While 42 per cent of retailers give their logistics/operations leaders final authority on selecting a returns transportation vendor (with the remainder split between customer care, eCommerce, procurement, marketing, and IT functions), only 25 per cent give operations leaders the same authority for selecting returns technology vendors. This division of responsibility is more likely to create gridlock when it comes to decision-making.