Rising returns is causing a real headache for retailers - 44% are seeing customers ordering the same number of items but sending more back, largely due to falling disposable income.

Is charging for returns a good idea?

While we’ve seen several big brands start charging customers for returns, most are still reluctant to close the door on free or low-cost returns.

Keeping their customers front of mind, most (73%) retailers feel unable to introduce charges given how the cost of living crisis is hitting people’s pockets.

But that doesn’t mean retailers are standing still waiting for the clouds to pass – there are other strategies at play to help address margin dilution caused by customers sending products back.

Retailers and consumer brands are targeting several options over the coming twelve months, including:

• Making returns more sustainable (39%)
• Introducing new policies for customers who regularly return lots of items (29%)
• Limiting flexible payment options (20%)
• Placing limits on the number of items customers can order (19%)

The supply chain is also a major focus, with 25% looking at how they can make stock inventory management more efficient.

An effective, transparent supply chain is an essential component of any successful retail business, particularly where returns are concerned. Targeted improvements would certainly help the 38% of retailers looking to improve the flow of goods back to the warehouse.

An intelligent supply chain underpinned by modern, bespoke software, should be the first port of call for retailers looking to get a handle on returns – and with 11% of retailers sending returned stock to landfill, it’s clear that there’s a lot of work to do to improve performance.

Take a look at our free eBook for more retail industry and consumer insight, plus in-depth results from our ‘returns crunch’ survey. Click here