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For consumer goods and high-tech manufacturers, as well as their retail customers, Christmas isn't necessarily the most important time of the year. In fact, it's Christmas returns season that is make or break for many of these companies, says Curtis Greve, principal of Greve Davis, a company specializing in reverse logistics and aftermarket services. "Your ability to process the tidal wave of returns during the first quarter of the year will have a big impact on your company's bottom line," he says.
There are at least 100 billion reasons for companies to take product returns seriously, since that's how much it costs U.S. manufacturers and retailers every year in lost sales, transportation, handling, processing and disposing of goods. Since 2007, the cost of returned consumer electronics has skyrocketed by 21 percent, reaching $17bn last year. In a recent survey conducted by Accenture, 43 percent of the electronics manufacturers polled say that product return rates have increased since 2007, and only 12 percent say returns are trending downward.
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