Providing an excellent returns policy for customers is on many merchants’ priority lists. Proof of this is in a recent report by Doddle, which shows 75% of merchants say improving returns is important. 

Doddle has released a returns report that highlights market findings for 2023. The company is a first and last-mile technology platform for leading businesses in e-commerce logistics. 

Some findings in the report are published by Post & Parcel

  • 84% of merchants believe their returns are either good or very good. 

Logistics providers are finding ways of making the returns process good. This is evident in UPS’ acquisition of reverse logistics firm Happy Returns. The Los Angeles-based company provides no-box, no-label returns to merchants and customers. Its network consists of over 10,000 box-free return locations in the US. 

UPS’ CEO Carol Tomé says shoppers and retailers have long been frustrated about returns. “By combining Happy Returns’ easy digital experience and established drop-off points with UPS’s small package network and footprint of close to 5,200 UPS Store locations, box-free, label-free returns will soon be available at more than 12,000 convenient locations in the US,” she says. 

  • 77% of merchants who don’t use a digital solution expressed interest in using a digital solution. 

Online shopping can be a headache when it comes to returning items. Happy Returns works with online companies to handle product returns. 

Here’s a scenario: Of course, you want your customers not to return items, but sometimes this is unavoidable. For example, items may be damaged during the delivery process.  

By using a digital solution for your online store, you are giving customers the option of stress-free returns. Also, having your own digital solution may save you money in the long term because you’re not paying a third party or parcel carrier to return products. Bottom line, having a good returns policy is a good idea for online merchants.

  • 75% of merchants say improving returns is a high priority. 

Logistics providers and parcel carriers are noticing the importance of improving their returns. Harbor Locker provides clients with an on-demand locker network. The company launched North America’s first on-demand locker marketplace. Its “Harbor Connect” app allows companies to create last-mile delivery, returns, and food delivery opportunities. 

This illustrates companies in the market are thinking about ways to help customers work on returns. 

Companies are even joining forces to provide an excellent returns policy and network. Recently Locate2uNews reported on Pitney Bowes and PackageHub T will launch a returns drop-off network. This will allow no-box, no-label returns at 1,000 locations in the US. 

Doddle and Blue Yonder 

Doddle was founded in 2014 by Tim Robinson and Sir Lloyd Dorfman, founder of Travelex. 

Doddle works with over 900 retailers and logistics providers worldwide to manage first and last-mile delivery. 

In October 2023, Supply chain platform Blue Yonder announced its acquisition of Doddle.

Blue Yonder’s platform allows retailers, manufacturers, and logistics providers to meet customer demand through delivery planning. The company works with over 3,000 businesses globally to ensure sustainable and profitable operations. Logistics providers with Doddle include Amazon, Australia Post, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service. 

Also Read: Easy parcel returns: A guide to using Uber Connect

Industry players master reverse logistics  

The reverse logistics process can be time-consuming. But thanks to warehouse automation, robotics provide speed and accuracy, enhancing the reverse logistics process. 

StartUs is a leading startup and innovation network that has identified some trends in reverse logistics in 2024. 

  • E-waste reverses supply chain: Machine learning is reducing electronic waste. This also allows valuable materials to be recovered. 
  • Cloud computing: This allows businesses to keep track of returns and enables enterprises to integrate with other logistics systems. 
  • Returns management: Artificial intelligent (AI) technology allows businesses to streamline handling returns. 

What is reverse logistics? 

Reverse logistics is returning goods into the supply chain to be reused. The process forms an integral part of the supply chain. It often involved the return of goods, for example, damaged items. 

Reverse logistics can be a challenge. Carlton Farr II, vice president of supply chain transportation with Radial Inc., in a report by TT News gave some insight into the reverse logistics industry. “It can be costly for businesses along the various functions of the supply chain: They generally require double the transportation and staffing costs and additional warehousing space to hold inventory. From a business perspective, he says that consumers may not exchange products or repurchase after making a return, which can also eat into profit margins,” he says. 

Now Read: Parcel returns cost UK retailers a hefty $76 billion per year

About the author

Sharl is a qualified journalist. He has over 10 years’ experience in the media industry, including positions as an editor of a magazine and Business Editor of a daily newspaper. Sharl also has experience in logistics specifically operations, where he worked with global food aid organisations distributing food into Africa. Sharl enjoys writing business stories and human interest pieces.