An easy returns experience can make or break consumers’ perceptions of a brand. But, with the need for returns massively evolving over the past year, what can returns bring to your business in 2021?

Tune in to this month’s discussion, featuring our own Caroline Turner, VP, Enterprise Sales, and Alison Bartos, Product Manager, to learn about the impact of this past returns season, trends retailers can expect to see in the near future, and the value of Optoro’s returns solutions, including our latest product updates.


Post-Holiday Returns Landscape

As expected, there was a significant surge in returns from both in-store and online purchases following the 2020 holiday season. In fact, UPS handled an estimated 8.75 million returns in just 1 week, a 23% increase over the highest week of returns for the 2019-2020 holiday season[1].

This steep increase is likely due to a few factors, such as bracketing in apparel (buying multiple versions of the same product and returning the items that don’t work out), the lack of physically seeing items during the selection process, and an increase in gifting tangible items vs experiences. Although retailers were warned of the implications of returns, many still lacked the technology to handle this huge influx. That’s why having a great digital experience is paramount for creating a strong returns process moving forward.


2021 Retail & Returns Trends

At this year’s virtual NRF conference, we heard from major retailers that they’re focusing on 3 key areas:

  • Omnichannel
    • The most successful retailers in the pandemic have leveraged multiple channels and leaned into ecommerce. This means flexible shopping and returns options like BOPIS/BORIS, curbside assistance, and free delivery/returns are likely here to stay.  
  • Customer experience
    • Digital-first experiences are leading the way with customers, and that includes returns. Our data shows that 97% of consumers are more likely to buy again from a retailer or brand if they have a positive returns experience[2].
  • Sustainable business
    • The focus on ethical consumption of products and community impact of businesses has increased tremendously. Not only that, recommerce through secondary channels (i.e. BULQ, Optoro’s proprietary B2B channel for resellers, and our exclusive BULQ on eBay store) is a growing area for returns.


Optoro’s Complete Returns Solution

With three suites of apps and services, we handle every stage of the return cycle to improve customer experience and loyalty, make operations more efficient, and maximize recovery on returned goods. 

  • Returns Experience
    • In partnership with Returnly, our solution offers easy online returns & instant credit to drive repurchases and customer loyalty. We also offer contactless, in-store drop-offs at 1,000+ locations through Express Returns.
  • Returns Management
    • Our data-powered technology streamlines returns processing (from receiving to sorting to fulfillment) and creates operational efficiencies.
  • Recommerce
    • Our Recommerce product suite enables businesses to instantly list received goods back on their channels or ours, leveraging our data-driven dynamic pricing.

If you’re considering implementing a new returns solution, now is the time to invest. By re-evaluating your returns process now, you can have the right technology in place ahead of the next big surge in returns.


Platform Updates

At Optoro, we highly prioritized performance and scaling efforts in response to inventory volume and returns spikes. We also focused on long term scalability and development given the ecommerce industry continues to see rising throughput, demand, and growth in returns.

what returns can bring to your business in 2021 - returns experience dashboard

Our latest release offers a more robust platform to handle a growing volume of returns, new reporting and visibility to drive efficiency and smarter decision-making, and in partnership with eBay, a new marketplace to enable BULQ lots of your inventory to be available for purchase by eBay’s 100M+ buyers.


If you’re interested in finding out what returns can bring to your business in 2021, you can schedule a demo to talk with our team or check out:



1. UPS expects to break weekly returns record with nearly 9M in returns | Supply Chain Dive | January 2021

2. Retail Returns And The Consumer Experience: Leveraging Returns as a Competitive Advantage | WBR Insights, Optoro, and Consumer Returns | 2018