Jess Morris, Head European Marketplace Manager at B-Stock, comments on how the retail industry can overcome the challenges of modern-day deliveries and returns to keep customers happy and retailers from losing out.

There are two main challenges that retailers are facing:

  1. Rising Customer Expectations: Customers now have higher expectations regarding delivery speed, accuracy, and convenience. They expect fast shipping, flexible delivery options, and hassle-free returns. Meeting these expectations can be challenging for retailers, especially when dealing with high order volumes or complex logistics networks.
  2. Cost Implications: The cost of fuel, handling, and remarketing returned items can significantly impact profit margins. We’ve seen retailers slowly start to take action. Restocking fees, rising free shipping thresholds, and in some cases, longer non-rushed delivery times could gradually become the norm.

For newly frugal shoppers, extra fees or hardened shipping and return policies can add an unwanted barrier in their decision to buy, resulting in reduced profits overall. But for retailers, the cost incurred for easy returns, then, could be seen as an advertising strategy to ‘touch and try’ the goods in a world of online buying, especially if the business had an effective inventory recovery solution. However, free returns aren’t the only competitive advantage that retailers have at their disposal. Focusing on their sustainability initiatives can open up new customer segments and still drive sales growth, as conscious consumers begin to prioritise these options in their shopping behaviours.

While a return-heavy mindset persists, retailers can work towards creating data-backed strategies for achieving their asset recovery and velocity goals. Data leveraged in real time has the power to transform retail. Sustainable, intelligent technologies and predictive analytics can turn hefty fulfillment costs into an opportunity.

There is value to unlock via recommerce platforms. Retailers can sell clearance stock and returns to business buyers that power today’s surging circular economy, all while saving on carrying costs, cutting disposal fees, and tightening up operations.

Striking a balance between convenience and costs is a constant challenge. With inflation rates still fluctuating and summer spending on the horizon, many retailers could explore optimising resource usage through inventory recovery solutions in lieu of sacrificing sales due to hardened shipping and returns policies.


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May 2024 issue

2024 A1 Buyers Guide