What factors will determine return policies in 2023?

Returned items are a silent enemy for some e-commerce and can represent 12% of their billing. While online purchases are increasing in double digits, the volume of changes and returns doubles this growth.

Technology is a key lever to achieve a true multi-channel that goes beyond shipments and also includes reverse logistics, alternative sales channels such as recommerce and even recycling.

If 2022 was the year in which people became aware of the dimensions that reverse logistics has acquired, in the coming months we will witness a profound transformation in this area.

What are the main trends that will prevail in 2023?

End of the open bar. The free returns associated with the impulse of massive purchases have an unsustainable impact on the income statements of businesses. To avoid this in the coming months, new formulas will be imposed, such as free returns limited to some products, free only for changes or the application of personalized expenses depending on the buyer’s profile, among others.

Social awareness:

Reverse logistics has serious consequences for the environment: the transport of packages is one of the most polluting activities and the waste caused by products that are not returned to the commercial channel and end up in landfills is acquiring disproportionate dimensions.

Two out of three consumers are willing to pay more to brands that they identify as socially responsible and, on the contrary, they will increasingly penalize those that are not aligned with that premise.

Rise of circularity:

Returned merchandise is devalued and, all too often, ends up in landfills with the consequent economic and environmental consequences. In 2023 we will witness the growth and development of Recommerce formulas to give these items a second life through their reconditioning; as well as recycling solutions that avoid uncontrolled waste.

Artificial intelligence:

The progressive application of Artificial Intelligence will be key to segmenting the reverse logistics flow, improving its traceability; increasing the operability of the processes, which are more aligned with the interests of the client; and reducing costs, which can account for 10% of the margin.

Profitability approach:

Returns are no longer treated exclusively as a cost and evolve towards a profitability approach. In its management, the replacement of products, a deeper knowledge of the client and the design of new loyalty strategies will prevail.

In the coming months, we will witness a profound transformation in this area.