Are You Prepared to Handle an Onslaught of Holiday Gift Returns?

Are You Prepared to Handle an Onslaught of Holiday Gift Returns?

Are You Prepared to Handle an Onslaught of Holiday Gift Returns?

According to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, preliminary insights show holiday sales increased 8.5 percent year-over-year this holiday season, running from November 1 through December 24. Most notably, online sales grew 11 percent compared to the same period last year, which for nearly every retailer was an unprecedented year for online sales.


But now that all the holiday gifts have been opened, it’s time for retailers to brace for what many experts expect to be a heavy returns period. Nearly 3 in 10 online purchases are returned, according to research from CBRE Research, and this doesn’t bode well for retailers already facing supply chain constraints, rising costs and labor shortages. CBRE projects more than $66 billion worth of product will be returned in the coming weeks.


There are a variety of reasons why items get returned. Two of the most prevalent however are due to retailer error (incorrect item or delivered later than promised) and an evolving consumer shopping behavior (called bracketing) when a consumer buys multiple sizes and colors of the same item with the intent of only keeping the items they like best.


Not only must retailers ensure that supply chains can execute online shipments on time and accurately, but they must also be able to ensure fast and convenient returns processing.


According to Voxware’s most recent biennial holiday survey, 41 percent of respondents returned an item due to retailer error. Amazingly enough, 51 percent of respondents said they returned an incorrect item only to have a wrong item sent the second time around! An easy step for retailers to take to help reduce errors almost immediately is to implement automation solutions like Voxware’s Voice Management Suite (VMS), which can increase item selection (picking) accuracy to above 99.99 percent.


Not limited to only improving the returns process, VMS improves the speed, accuracy and efficiency across all functions in the distribution center, including training new or temporary employees through VoxTempo. Using VMS, warehouse operations realize immediate improvements in accuracy, double-digit productivity gains, reduced labor and operating expenses and complete visibility into the entire distribution operation. By supporting multimodal technologies across all workflows, Voxware allows its customers to choose the right solution at the right time, whether that be voice, scanning or vision through its Augmented Reality solution.


Retailers that want to capture sales should implement supply chain infrastructure that increases the profitability of returned items. One way to achieve this is to implement predictive analytics software that ties the entire supply chain together. Tools like Voxware’s VoxPilot enterprise analytics solution allows fulfillment professionals to better analyze and more comprehensively understand opportunities to reduce the number of returns. Fast and easy access to better data is the key and it’s available to those fulfillment managers seeking to improve results.


As retailer mistakes continue to run rampant, between delayed and inaccurate deliveries, brands will be left with a negative lasting impact on customer loyalty, reputation and ultimately their bottom line. To protect their brand, retailers must automate distribution center processes to reduce mistakes particularly in the face of increased demand.


Automation has become a necessity for success in today’s fast-paced world we live in. For a no-pressure consultation, contact Voxware to learn how warehouse automation can help you deliver a flawless customer experience all the time.

Get a Demo