During the holiday season millions of gifts are purchased and exchanged among family and friends however, the amount of merchandise that gets returned has increased exponentially over the last several years. According to CBRE and Optoro, Americans are projected to return $41.6 billion in online holiday merchandise this year, up from $37 billion returned last year. With the uptick in online shopping, consumers have more purchasing power than ever before. They can purchase any number of items from the comfort of their home while knowing they can return anything at no cost. This leaves retailers wondering how they can make up for lost profits on returned goods, as well as putting immense pressure on the distribution centers in charge of handling.
The CBRE found the standard range for online returns between 15% to 30%, as opposed to shopping at brick and mortar stores where the return rate falls around 8%. Options for online returns range from pickup at residence, drop offs at delivery merchants, or even drop off at other retailers. For example, this year Amazon partnered with Kohl’s allowing customers to return anything bought from Amazon at any Kohl’s location nationwide. Mark Soloman of Freightwaves states, “this strategy, known as buy online return in store (BORIS), consolidates returns in one location and eliminates the need for Amazon to dispatch a driver and vehicle to pick up parcels at residences.”
This type of scenario where brick and mortar stores partner with online retailers can serve as a win-win . For example, Kohl’s may see more foot traffic due to returns and Amazon will save time and resources with the consolidated pick up. Retail industry, distribution centers and retailers must get creative with their business strategies. As the online shopping trend continues to grow, be on the lookout for more unlikely partnerships between online and brick and mortar stores.