The news: US consumers are on track to return more than $761 billion in goods purchased in 2021, per a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Appriss Retail.
More survey insights:
An expensive business: The survey also highlights how costly returns are for merchants: For every $1 billion in sales, retailers see $166 million in returns, on average. On top of that, for every $100 of returned merchandise, they lose $10.30 to fraud.
A growing problem: As the rate of returns increases, retailers are struggling to decide what to do with unwanted items. While the most obvious solution is to put them back into circulation, the process of reverse logistics (moving goods from the consumer back to the retailer or manufacturer) is complex and expensive—not to mention that some returned items are not fit to be resold.
The customer is always right: Until recently, the return experience has been an afterthought for most retailers.
The big takeaway: Retailers have been primed for years to focus mostly on sales, but as ecommerce adoption drives up return rates, they’ll have to rethink the end-to-end shopping experience.