Free online returns: The environmental cost

CNBC reports that U.S. online sales increased by 32.2 percent over 2019 to record $188.2 Billion during the 2020 holiday season. The record-breaking volume of ecommerce activity has resulted in record returns volumes, leaving shipping companies under pressure as they are overloaded with packages.

Leave a huge environmental footprint

Although the concept of free returns online lured customers to certain brands during holidays, there are a number of repercussions associated with returning goods. Online shopping will bring you returns in 2019.5 billion tonsa year, produced more carbon dioxide than 3 million cars driving. Many millions of items are disposed of in landfills as it is cheaper and easier for companies to dispose of their returns than to process, repair and restock them.

According toB-StockThe world’s largest B2B marketplace, B-Stock, is the best place to find customer returns and overstock merchandise. It can be twice as expensive to process an online return on the shelf than it would to sell it first time. Marcus Shen, B-Stock’s COO, stated that there are many operational decisions to make. It requires manual touches and many retailers are set-up to sell the first time. The second time is always more difficult.

Find a solution to how returns are handled

Retailers should offer online returns, even though they are aware of the potential impact. Because they can’t touch, feel, or smell the merchandise in person, consumers should be able to return their items online. As a marketing strategy, free online returns are a great way of making sales and earning customer loyalty. However, rather than sending the returned goods to a dump, there are other options.

Larger retailers have found ways to reduce the cost of returns. Best Buy is one example.Uses a variety of methodsIt could also include open-box merchandise on its website, and host a sale event for open-box merchandise right after Christmas. It does not necessarily mean that you have to return a product that has been opened. You can inspect the product to check for any damage to determine if it’s able to be sold to another customer as a ‘used’ item.

Retailers should think about selling the goods to liquidation companies if the product is damaged or cannot be resold. B-Stock, one such channel, allows brands to create online marketplaces to sell excess, liquidated or returned merchandise in bulk quantities to authorized resellers.Direct LiquidationAnother company that retailers can use to sell returns to their customers is Returns Direct.


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Online-Only Brands: There are many options

Happy ReturnsThere are also technologies and logistics available at almost 300 U.S. locations that allow online orders to be returned in person if the retailer doesn’t have a physical location. Everlane, Untuckit and Rothy have partnered with Happy Returns to launch brands such as Everlane and Rothy. The company has placed its return bars in malls and on college campuses, as well as stores like Sur La Table or Paper Source. Happy Returns packs it up for the customer, sorts the returns by retailer and then ships bulk to return hubs at a lower cost than the postal service.

There are better ways to handle returns than just throwing them in the trash. Although indie brands don’t necessarily have to worry about large returns, these best practices will help you not only save the environment but also keep your store from losing any money by not accepting unwanted goods.

These Shipping Secrets Will Help You Save Money

Ecommerce continues to grow and consumers expect free shipping and returns. This is because retail conglomerates like Walmart and Amazon allow them to make this their competitive mark. Indie retailers believe they have to compete and share the cost in order to offer shoppers what they want. This is creating friction for consumers who are struggling to make ends meet with their limited budgets.

There are many ways to please your customers without increasing your business’ overhead. This can be achieved by not offering free returns online. Simplicity is key. Invesp found that 92 percent of customers will purchase a product again if it has a simple return process. Only 79 percent want free shipping. Indie retailers should focus on easy returns.

No-hassle Returns in Store

Free in-store returns are a great way to save money on shipping. It also allows you to have a conversation with your customer to turn the return into a sale or exchange. Engaging with customers on returns, offering alternative products, and building a deeper relationship with them can all make them a loyal customer. Howard Meitiner, Carl Marks Advisors’ Managing Director, stated that this engagement can transform a nightmare into an effective customer retention strategy.

You can refund the customer and let them keep the product

This option may not be available to all retailers. It should be determined based on the product and reason for returning it. However, some brands have had success using this method. The cost of returning a product to a business may be more than its actual value. This includes return shipping costs, labor costs to inspect the return upon receipt, and the cost for restocking or refurbishment. Sometimes the best solution is to give the customer a refund and ask them to keep the item or donate it. This strategy saves money and increases brand trust. It also creates less waste by allowing customers to donate items instead of throwing them away,” Maria Haggerty (Dotcom Distribution CEO) said.

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Ship with the Best in Class Tools

Krish Iyer, Head, Industry Relations and Partnerships, ShipStation, stated that ecommerce sellers can save money shipping by using software tools specifically designed for ecommerce. These tools can reduce shipping costs in a number of ways. The first is that it increases efficiency and speed of processing which allows sellers to ship more orders. The second is by providing transparency into shipping costs and transit times, as well as surcharges. This allows sellers to make the right decisions based on urgency to get the product to their customers at the right price. Third, by making it easier for customers to track and initiate returns.

Products Made in USA

Apart from the product’s actual cost, there are many other factors that go into sourcing new products. Although it may seem cheaper to source new products overseas, once you add in shipping and duties, the cost can quickly mount up. There was a long-standing trend to source products overseas for the lowest price. However, this can lead to longer lead times, higher risk, and higher shipping cost. Sometimes, import duties are added to the cost. Retailers are now looking to source within the country, Meitiner stated. While there might be a higher price for the product, the lead times are shorter, which can improve replenishment options if you happen upon a best seller.

Get to Know Your Packaging Options

Flat rate options are a cost-effective and easy-to-understand option for ecommerce sellers to save shipping costs. However, ecommerce sellers can also invest in other packaging options to be able to take advantage even more affordable shipping options like USPS First Class Package Service (USPS Parcel Select) or USPS Parcel Select. Iyer stated that shippers who want to reduce shipping costs must be familiar with their packaging options, including first-class mail, regional rate boxes, and poly mailers. They also need to know which are most cost-effective for various shipment types.

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