In a 2021 blog post, the online retail platform company Shopify describes e-commerce returns as a ‘disease.’ A strong diagnosis. However the numbers do back it up. According to the National Retail Federation, US consumers returned products worth $428 billion in 2020 alone with the expectation for that number to climb in coming years.
It’s no wonder Shopify went on to explain the returns disease as one that “aggressively attacks profit margins, guts conversion rates, and ultimately threatens your business.” This is the flipside of the growing boom in online retail. Over the last two years, the pandemic has accelerated the migration away from physical commerce. While this exodus saved many underpressure brick-and-mortar retailers, the unprecedented volume of returns has led to new headaches for retailers.