The increase in online sales caused by the pandemic has also increased the number of returns and logistics costs for international retailers. In 2021, two out of ten online orders made in the United States ended up being returned, which is equivalent to 218,000 million dollars, according to data collected by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Appriss Retail.
In particular, the e-commerce boom brought about by the pandemic has put pressure on online distributors, who have been wondering for several years how to deal with the cost of digital sales returns. Between 2022 and 2027, the reverse logistics market in the United States will register an average growth of 5.8%, according to forecasts by the market research agency Research and Markets.
In addition, this increase, also driven by the industrialization of emerging economies in Asia Pacific and South America, will mean a market with an estimated value of 812.6 billion dollars. Reverse logistics is not as simple as just undoing the path of a product.
Specifically, it requires mechanisms such as the processing and evaluation of returns, the control of their flow, their repair and recycling, if applicable. “Retailers need to build returns into their business strategy,” advises Steve Prebble, CEO of Appriss Retail.
It should be remembered that, in May 2022, Inditex launched a groundbreaking measure in terms of the online fashion business: it announced that it would begin charging a fixed fee for online returns.
Fashion, which has an eCommerce return rate of 12%, according to the NRF, established free returns since the beginning of electronic commerce as a measure to stimulate online purchases, which many consumers still rejected.
Now that eCommerce has become an essential channel for the sector, the conditions of the purchase are no longer a differentiating factor. Inditex has not been alone in putting limits on returns to address the cost of reverse logistics: Uniqlo and Zalando have also done so.
The volume of returns will reach figures of 812,600 million dollars in 2027, with an average annual growth of 5.8%.