All Posts

The Hidden Costs of Consumer Returns

Buyers have become increasingly return-conscious, with many of them making it a point to consider how a specific retailer’s policy works before they make a purchase. While returns are essential for customer satisfaction and maintaining trust, they come with significant hidden costs that affect retailers in both financial and non-financial ways. Compounding this issue, 87% of logistics executives said they struggle to find reliable return solutions.

In this article, we’ll explore the hidden costs of consumer returns, the impact on retailer finances, customer satisfaction, and even employee morale.

The Financial Impact of Returns

Returns are far from a revenue-neutral part of business. They have a massive impact on your bottom line, but they can be minimized if you know where to look. One of the more exorbitant costs is the return shipping, but with uShip, you know you’re getting the best rate possible with our network of carriers ready to make easy work of your returns.

Here are some of the hidden costs you may deal with.

Return Processing Costs

Retailers incur costs when processing returns. This includes labor costs, expenses related to inspecting, restocking, refurbishment, and repackaging returned items, and even the cost of shipping the items back to the warehouse. These are all part of the whole that is reverse logistics. These costs can quickly add up, especially for e-commerce businesses.

Further costs are incurred when your return shipping method isn’t efficient. When your product changes hands multiple times, as in most shipping models, damage rates increase exponentially. Look for a first-to-last mile solution, like uShip, where items are taken from your customer’s location directly back to your warehouse or shop.

Lost Revenue

Returns mean lost revenue — bottom line (pun intended). This is particularly impactful when the item can’t be resold such as the case when damage happens. Not only does this negatively affect revenue (returns are expensive), but it also adds to landfill waste as most of these items end up as garbage before their useful life is realized.


Our damage rates are the lowest in the industry. How? uShip’s first-to-last mile solution reduces revenue-robbing damage. As mentioned above, by decreasing touchpoints, damage plummets — but it’s more than that. We also blanket-wrap each and every large and bulky return. It’s standard practice for us, so you can rest assured that your returns make it to you in the best possible condition.

Inventory Depreciation

Goods that have been returned often spend time in limbo, taking up valuable warehouse space. As new products come in, older inventory can become obsolete, leading to depreciation and potentially lower resale value, or worse…it goes to a landfill. This points to needing faster return speeds. But how? Well, as before, uShip — we’re that first-to-last mile provider that gets returns back quickly so you can move inventory back to where it belongs.

Shipping and Handling Costs

If you’re a retailer of large and bulky items, you know that most (if not all) of the return costs are borne by you. This can get expensive, and it only complicates the issues mentioned above. While the full selling price probably can’t be recovered, you can mitigate shipping costs if you know where to look.

The uShip marketplace allows you to find the best possible price for your big and bulky return shipping. You can see rates from multiple carriers who specialize in getting large items anywhere you need them to be. uShip gives you the tools you need to get your large and bulky items from point A to B quickly, efficiently, sustainably, and affordably.

The Impact on Customer Satisfaction

While it’s clear that oversized returns can force you to incur unwanted costs, the financial impact of not allowing returns or having a painful return process can also cut into your bottom line. You lose return customers…then they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends. All of a sudden, your reputation is shot (think Dominos 7-10 years ago). That’s hard to bounce back from. The fact that 95% of consumers are willing to be a repeat buyer if they have a good return experience says it all. Are you willing to gamble on the 5% who have a bad experience?

Let’s look at some of the impacts you could face.

Customer Frustration

Customers will be frustrated with the return process if it’s not streamlined or encounter issues like restocking fees, complicated return instructions, or long processing times. Cool the burn from this friction by centering your return efforts on making the experience easy, seamless, and maybe even enjoyable for the customer. Do this and you’ll solidify your customer experience and build loyal repeat buyers.

With a heaping dose of aloe, uShip does just that — the burn that used to exist in your returns fades away as a distant memory not to be repeated again. With uShip’s first-to-final mile service, your customers don’t have to lift a finger. Return items are picked up from your customer’s room of choice, blanket-wrapped, and delivered back to your warehouse or shop.

Lost Trust

Consumers rely on return policies as a safety net when making purchases, especially when it comes to big-ticket items, like furniture or appliances. A customer-friendly return policy reduces cart abandonment by giving customers the confidence to make large purchases online.

If they have a negative return experience, it will erode their trust in the retailer, leading to a loss of customer loyalty. It’s a vicious cycle and feeds the point directly above this one. The picture becomes clearer — without a buyer-centric return process, you’re losing the forest for the trees. Keep that up, and the forest will be gone before you know it.

The Impact on Employee Morale

Processing returns is often seen as mundane, repetitive, and a waste of time, especially when they’re coming in so damaged that they’re just waste. How can you combat this? Partner with uShip to get the lowest damage rates in the biz. First-to-final mile blanket wrap service. Minimal touch points. It takes the burden off your customer’s shoulders and makes it easier on your internal staff, too.

Let’s take a look at what returns are doing to your staff.

Increased Workload During Peak Seasons


During peak seasons, workloads increase. That is to be expected. If you aren’t staffed up for that increase, you aren’t doing the staff you have any favors. With the right shipping return partner, however, you can alleviate a lot of this. As it probably stands now, you have multiple returns coming in on each truck. When that truck hits the dock, it’s go time. It can cause intense times of feverishly paced work.

Impact on Retail Operations

Processing returns efficiently is crucial to maintaining smooth retail operations. Any issues in this process can ripple effects on other aspects of the business, affecting employees’ morale in various departments.


Returns are expensive, and the deck is stacked against you if you don’t have a good return process in place. Hidden costs lurk around each corner, and if you aren’t ready, they’ll hit you where it hurts. The pocketbook. uShip is the answer to get your return shipping costs in line so you can turn a profit from them.

We’d love to show you how uShip can break these barriers down and make large and bulky returns less expensive than you think.