Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. Retailers enjoyed brisk sales with 174 million people shopping compared to the 164 million expected. Online sales grew about three times faster than in-store sales, continuing a trend of the last decade. Whether you bought online or in-store, it’s all good, right?
Not if you are the retailer. According to UPS, almost one-third of all web orders get sent back vs nine percent at physical stores. A full 75% of shoppers returned some merchandise this year by shipping goods back to the merchant. The expense of processing and shipping those boomeranged items can range from 20% to 65% of e-tailers’ cost of goods sold. Managing returned goods is a dream for shippers like UPS and FedEx, a headache for shoppers and a nightmare for e-tailers.
That’s one more reason that physical stores feel compelled to make the in-store shopping experience better, more enjoyable and satisfying: sold goods tend to stay sold because buyers know exactly what they’re getting when they can see, feel, taste, and/or smell what they’re buying.
About three-quarters of all retailers provide free returns. It’s a competitive imperative. But those returns aren’t free at all.