Optimizing E-commerce Returns with Automated Storage Systems
Quickly organize returned items by dispensation category to minimize inventory costs, labor requirements and space
demands through deployment of flexible automated storage and retrieval systems.
The Returns Headache
Shopping online has been embraced in a big way. Actually, “big” might be considered an understatement.
In 2018, U.S. e-commerce retail sales to consumers was expected to approach $525 billion—a 15.9% jump over
2017. By 2020, online sales are projected to top $660 billion, and analysts project U.S. online retail sales will
surpass $1 trillion by 2025—a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 10% over the next decade.1
Yet with all those parcels arriving in the mailbox or on the doorstep of consumers, there are bound to be some
returns. After all, unless a shopper is buying an item already seen in person elsewhere, e-commerce purchases are
highly dependent on images and text that describes a product—whether generated by the online merchant or
reviewers who have experienced it.
Just how many returns do e-commerce operations experience, and why? Here’s a few statistics:
- At least 20% of all products purchased through e-commerce channels are returned; during the holiday
shopping season, that number swells to 30% and even higher—50%—for the priciest items.
- Apparel is the most often returned online purchase at 43%3, and 41% of shoppers buy multiple sizes or
variations at one time with the intent of returning some of them.
- 23% of e-commerce returns are caused by a mispick (the wrong item or quantity of item(s) is picked
instead of the correct one).
- 22% of e-commerce returns are due to the product not matching its online description.
- 22% of e-commerce returns are because the product received is damaged.
- 67% of all returned online purchases are the fault of the retailer.
- 48% of online shoppers report returning at least one online purchase in the past 12 months.
With the e-commerce returns data just as staggering as the explosion of online shopping’s popularity, many online
retailers are discovering that their returns management process isn’t operationally efficient or effective. In fact,
“reverse logistics is one of the most often overlooked elements of the complete operations cycle.”
Optimizing Returns with Automated Storage