A large portion of consumers today make online purchasing decisions based on the availability of free returns. In order to remain competitive, retailers are coming to accept this new reality and according to a study released by the National Retail Federation this month, about 49 percent of retailers now offer free return shipping. While that number is expected to rise, many retailers are struggling to meet the growing expectation for providing free returns because of the added costs and tightening margins.

In her Wall Street Journal, “The Rising Cost of Free Returns”, reporter Loretta Chao takes a look at how retailers are responding to these challenges and includes Newgistics as a third-party partner that can help alleviate the strain that retailers are facing.

Newgistics provides competitive offerings for shipping and returns, but more importantly we’ve strategically focused on building solutions that offset the added cost that many retailers face when they provide returns free of charge. These solutions are all built upon the capabilities of Newgistics’ SmartLabel technology – pre-paid, pre-addressed barcoded labels that consumers affix to their returns and that provide retailers with better visibility for better planning. This added visibility enables retailers to offset costs through efficiencies such as improved labor planning, better communication with customers and faster resale times.

By knowing what’s on its way back to their distribution center and when it’s arriving, retailers can perfectly and efficiently handle staffing needs. In addition, providing added visibility to consumers – and even setting automated correspondence to proactively update them on the status of a package – can reduce call center volumes and again, lead to labor savings. Having a better idea of what’s arriving and when also leads to faster restocking for faster resale, allowing retailers to credits consumers for returns more quickly. This ensures they can get back to shopping and making their next purchase immediately.

Customers today expect the freedom to change their minds, so make sure you’re delivering what’s increasingly becoming an expectation. To learn more about Newgistics’ return management capabilities and how we can help you alleviate the strain of tightening margins, please visit: newgistics.com