E-commerce may be booming but costs related to managing reverse logistics could mean profits are going bust.
E-commerce sales for 2016 hit $394.9 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And the more we shop online, the more we’re returning. The National Retail Federation reported the amount of merchandise returned between 2007 and 2015 increased by 52 percent.
To ease the burden of handling returned merchandise, UPS is launching a new tool in the U.S. on Monday called UPS Returns Manager. The free tool, which bows in 43 other countries at the end of the month, is designed to allow small to mid-size retailers to handle reverse logistics without investing in new technology to augment their IT systems.
The tool allows merchants to link outbound and returned packages all in one place so stores can keep track of all transactions. Shippers can also preauthorize returns for select accounts, collect and analyze reason codes, and provide return labels. The company says the seamless interface looks similar to the systems used by large retailers, providing customers with a high level of service that adds to customer loyalty.
[Read more about the relationship between returns and customer loyalty: Report: Easy Returns Yield Loyal Customers]
And keeping consumers happy is important. Post-purchase experience platform Narvar found that when shoppers have a bad return experience, they’re three times as likely to quit the retailer entirely.
For consumers, the tool provides convenience. Shoppers can print mailing labels from the UPS tracking results page, an email alert or at UPS stores.
“Online returns are a headache for many merchants and their customers. The UPS Returns Manager makes the process a lot easier,” said Stu Marcus, UPS vice president of customer technology marketing. “It’s perfect for any shipper, especially small and mid-sized merchants that lack this capability in-house. UPS is the first logistics provider to offer the ability to create a return shipment through a tracking results page.”
UPS created the tool after learning that 75 percent of avid online shoppers return items via mail, and that a store’s returns policy is a factor in buying decisions.