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Retailers are Feeling Boxed In by E-commerce Returns

Free, fast shipping has become the mantra for online retailers looking to lure shoppers to their sites.

And it seems to be working.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that total e-commerce sales for 2016 were $394.9 billion, an increase of 15.1% from 2015.

But all too often, many of those outgoing packages get bounced back to retailers by shoppers who are unhappy with their purchases. And while stores are equipped with the logistics to fulfill orders, they’re lagging way behind when it comes to handling this flood of incoming merchandise.

The National Retail Federation says the amount of merchandise returned increased by 52 percent from $171 billion in 2007 to $260 million in 2015.

This flood of returns is creating a logistical headache—one that’s undermining the bottom line.

To address this issue, new businesses are springing up to make returns easier for consumers and merchants alike. At the Innovations in Returns panel at the ShopTalk retail conference in Las Vegas Monday, several entrepreneurs discussed the costs associated with reverse logistics and how their companies strive to remove this burden from retailers.

Read more at Sourcing Journal.