A Third of Retailers Waste Too Much Time Manually Processing Returned Items


SML RFID, the global leader in delivering high-performance RFID solutions for the retail industry, has announced today that it has released Part 2 of its State of Retail 2022/2023 report, finding that a third (32%) of retailers state they spend too much time manually processing returned items with 26% blaming a lack of staff for processing returns as a main cause.

The second of a two-part series, Returns Management, and the Customer Experience analyzes responses from over 500 senior decision-makers from apparel retailers across the US and UK. The report discusses the growth of consumer returns, the impact on the wider industry, and how retailers can improve their returns operations and utilize return transactions to extend customer engagement.

The rise of returns has become a growing issue for retailers and their revenue streams in recent years. In fact, 42% of returned items are sold at a discounted price, and 12% aren’t even re-sold. With the problem continuing to worsen amidst the current labor shortage, retailers must redirect their focus on delivering streamlined returns processes that reduce their own costs and improve overall efficiency.

Retailers are now in a position to develop customer engagement further to the return itself as a strategy for providing an in-store customer experience. The report also found that retailers struggle to deliver a seamless customer experience as a result of the labor shortage and poor internal processes. In particular, 42% of retailers state they don’t have enough staff on the shop floor, while 30% agree that staff spends too much time completing mundane tasks, and 93% state that technology is important in facilitating a seamless customer experience in-store.

Dean Frew, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of RFID Solutions at SML Group said: “The findings highlight the growing issue of returns, and retailers clearly recognize that changes need to be made. Item-level RFID can play a pivotal role in alleviating the slow returns process on an operational level and manually processing returns.

“By investing in Item-level RFID technology, retailers can have instant visibility and access to reverse supply chains, enabling them to streamline back-end operations and send items back to the shop floor much quicker. It also significantly reduces time spent on manual inventory-related tasks enabling staff to aid customers and improve their experience. Investing in technology and processes that enable improved customer experience should be a top priority in an increasingly competitive landscape.”

For access to the full study and its findings, download part two of the State of Retail 2022/2023 Part 2: Returns Management and the Customer Experience report here: https://www.sml.com/resources/state-of-retail-insight-report-2023-part-2-returns-management-and-the-customer-experience/