THE DAILY SCOPE, 1/3/22: As they enter the post-holiday season fog, retailers can expect some previously overzealous customers to come back to earth and return products bought in the midst of shopping frenzies. Returns are part of the territory and should come as no surprise for retailers. Last year, a study by the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated that 13.3 percent of products sold during the holiday season were returned, meaning that in 2020 roughly $101 billion worth of merchandise was sent back. With total retail sales increasing 8.5 percent year-over-year for the 2021 holiday season, the 2021 holiday season returns are expected to be larger than last year’s figure. If returns continue at last year’s pace and retailers reach the NRF’s originally projected $843.3 to $859 billion in sales, then retailers can expect some $112 to $114 billion in products to be returned this year.
This should come as no surprise to retailers. According to a study conducted by Inmar Intelligence, 61 percent of retailers are expecting returns from the 2021 holiday season to be 11 percent or higher in comparison to 2020. The heightened expectations for returns come as a result of increases in online shopping and over-purchasing caused by anxieties over supply chain disruptions. Online shopping accounted for roughly 20 percent of purchases this holiday season which is up five percent in comparison with 2019. This increase in online sales will also result in an increase in returns as products purchased online are returned at over double the rate as those purchased in-store. Furthermore, due to this dynamic, the burden of returns is likely to be spread inequitably with online retailers being hit harder.
Returns are often a nightmare for retailers, but they are part of the cost of doing business and are increasingly becoming a deciding factor for consumers who seek to make the process quick and painless process. According to a study conducted by Forrester, one-third of shoppers say the idea of a complicated return process has discouraged them from shopping online. So, in order to attract business, the onus is on retailers to provide a flexible and easy return process. Fulfilling this consumer demand is costly for retailers. Optoro, a reverse logistics solutions provider, estimates that in 2021 it cost $33 or 66 percent of the price to process a $50 item, which is up from last year’s 59 percent. This expensive return process is a result of the current elevated cost of transportation, processing, discounting, and liquidation due to lingering supply chain issues. However, retailers can lessen the cost for themselves by providing customers with a channel to return online purchases at in-store locations. For example, Walmart gives customers 60 days of guilt-free returns for all electronics purchases this convenient return policy helps the company to retain customers. Also, retailers should focus on rapidly maximizing opportunities to resell returned items in order to avoid losses. Currently, 75 percent of return items, depending on their condition, are refurbished, repackaged, and upcycled when necessary to be resold as quickly as possible.
In other news, CES 2022 is set to commence this week. This year’s event has been reduced to only three days in length from January 5–7 due to concerns over the Omicron variant. However, this week is still extremely exciting as companies unveil some of their hottest new tech in preparation for the event. Today, Acer announced the release of three new Chromebooks: the Acer Chromebook Spin 513, the Acer Chromebook 315, and the Acer Chromebook 314. This trio of computers is being marketed towards families, students, and hybrid workers who are looking for a secure and affordable device to cater to their productivity, entertainment, and communication needs. The Acer Chromebook Spin 513, the Acer Chromebook 315, and the Acer Chromebook 314 each boast a unique display size of 13.5 inches, 15.6 inches, and 14 inches respectively.
In preparation for CES 2022, Acer has also unleashed the Aspire Vero National Geographic edition with sustainability in mind. Each of the National Geographic edition laptops features a chassis made out of 30 percent post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR) and keys made out of 50 percent PCR. Moreover, some of the profits from each laptop sold go towards supporting the National Geographic Society, which provides grants and impact investments to scientists, educators, storytellers, and conservationists who are making an impact on sustainability across the globe.
Finally, PayPulse ONE, marketed as the first-ever video game smart exercise bike, is set to debut tomorrow at CES. With the PayPulse One, you never have to exercise in boredom again. The device offers options for video games, traditional exercise content, and streaming channels such as HBO Max, Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu.