NEW YORK — The surge in online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic is a lifesaver for retailers, but it comes at a price.
According to data from Narvar Inc., a software and technology company that manages online returns for hundreds of brands, shoppers are expected to return twice as many items during the holiday last year, costing the company about $1.1 billion.
Retailers don’t want to get returns, but they do hope that shoppers may feel unsafe, so they don’t want to go to the store and comfortably buy things they haven’t seen or tried.
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Since March, people have been making a lot of online purchases, so that operators such as UPS and FedEx have been operating at full capacity before the holiday shopping season. And online sales have been soaring. According to data from Adobe Analytics, from November 1
Sara Skirboll, a shopping expert at the trading site RetailMeNot, said this means that shoppers returning items will have to wait two weeks after returning to the store to get a refund.
Many companies provide more locations where customers can deliver returns, thereby reducing shipping costs and refunding shoppers faster.
Last year, Kohl’s began allowing Amazon to return products in all of its 1,000 stores-customers release the products for free, no boxes or labels are required. This year, Amazon customers can also return goods at 500 Whole Foods Market stores. This is in addition to the deal between Amazon and UPS to allow similar drop-offs in UPS stores.
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Happy Return, a Santa Monica, California-based startup, worked with about 150 online retailers such as Rothy’s and Revolve to increase the number of drop-off locations from more than 700 last year to 2,600. This includes 2,000 FedEx locations.
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“Now is a good time to engage in the return business. There are records every day.” David Sobie, CEO and co-founder of Happy Return, pointed out that the returns he processed in December increased by 50% compared to November.
Walmart, the largest retailer in the United States, announced earlier this week that it will establish a new partnership with FedEx to retrieve items shipped and sold by Walmart (Walmart.com) from customers’ homes for free. The service will continue to be provided after the holiday shopping season.
More and more retailers are asking shoppers not to send back some rejected items.
When Dick Pirozzolo wanted to return a jersey that he bought for $40 on the website Online Cycling Gear, which was too small, his response was surprising. The website told him to keep it, discard it or give it to a friend or charity, and it will be sent to him in the appropriate size, but at an additional $10.
“I’m fine with that,” said a 77-year-old cyclist from Wellesley, Massachusetts. “I did a good thing for a friend, and I got a new shirt.” He said that this experience gave him the confidence to buy more online products during this holiday.
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David Bassuk, the global co-head of AlixPartners’ retail operations, said stores are increasingly making shoppers feel guilty about returns.
He said: “If you are not sure about the size, order two sizes. If you are not sure which color, then order two colors. And if they are not sure which item it is, they can order all. But this is for retailers It’s expensive, and retailers can’t handle all costs well.”
According to Forrester Research online analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, on average, people return 25% of goods purchased online, while the proportion of goods purchased in stores is only 8%. For clothing, the price is even higher, about 30%.
Experts say, but not all rejected items are the same and have different levels of depreciation. After returning the item to the retailer, the company must assess its condition and decide whether to resell it, and send it to the liquidator or landfill.
Optoro, a return flow company, estimates that the value of fashion clothing will depreciate by 20% to 50% in 8 to 16 weeks. Therefore, it is very important to reship and sell rejected items as soon as possible.
This year’s returns are also complicated, as retailers encourage people to buy holiday gifts early to avoid shipping delays and store congestion, which means that when Christmas approaches, the return window may be closed.
Amazon allows customers to return products between October 1st and December 31st until January 31st, which gives customers more time to decide. Last year, the policy did not include items shipped in October.
Rachel Sakelaris, 25, from Newport Beach, California, bought a waterproof backpack for his boyfriend on Black Friday before realizing that there is a 30-day return policy. She decided to move the gift exchange office up to last weekend, so that he could come back some time if he didn’t like it.
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In May of this year, Sarah Huffman, 40, of Chesapeake, Virginia, hoped to start the holiday and spent $600 on Amazon for gifts, including $60 in pajamas and 90 A dollar Xbox game for her five children.
But then her husband, a disabled veteran, resigned because he felt that his boss was too lax on COVD-19 safety regulations. Now, her family is trying to put the food on the table, and because the return window has passed, she cannot return some of the gifts she bought.
She said: “I tried to buy as soon as possible to eliminate the pressure of the pandemic. I didn’t realize that basic life choices would find new lows.”