Five Benefits of Automating Returns in Retail Stores 

By Aila Staff

October 4, 2023

In the age of online shopping, customers have come to expect the convenience of in-store returns, as sending returns by mail has become a burdensome chore. Returns have grown exponentially in recent years, amounting to over $800 billion each year worth of returned products.  

The manual handling of returns causes nothing but unnecessary delays while hurting the customer experience. This is where automated returns can make a huge impact. Automated returns have the power to transform the return process from taking minutes to mere seconds while offering a range of benefits including improving the customer experience.

1. Enhanced Customer Experience

Customer satisfaction is the key to any successful retail enterprise. When customers have a hassle-free return experience, it leaves a positive impression and creates customer loyalty. With retail automation, customers can initiate a purchase online, and drop off their returns at the convenience of a brick-and-mortar location. By handling returns quickly and efficiently, long wait times are eliminated and frustrations have been reduced, turning an initially negative experience into a positive one. 

2. Increased Efficiency

Manual return processing can be time-consuming, taking employees away from higher-value customer interactions. Automating the return process significantly reduces the likelihood of human error and speeds up the entire procedure. Barcode scanners, automated inventory tracking, and integrated systems ensure that returned items are processed accurately and quickly. This efficiency not only saves time for employees but also reduces the workload, allowing staff to focus on more value-added tasks.

3. Reduced Operational Costs 

Automated return kiosks offer a remarkable advantage by seamlessly managing the entire return process with minimal human intervention from start to finish. This not only allows retailers to reduce labor expenses but also enhances operational efficiency. Moreover, automating returns can significantly cut down on shipping expenses. According to NRF, a substantial 84% of consumers prefer returning items to a physical store rather than incurring shipping costs for returns.

4. Time-Saving 

According to the State of Retail 2023 report, 32% of retailers find themselves dedicating excessive time to manual returns processing. The automation of this return procedure not only frees up valuable time for both employees and customers but also enhances the overall experience for shoppers. By automating returns, customers enjoy a more streamlined process, while retail staff can allocate their time more efficiently, unburdened by the manual tasks associated with return processing.

With Aila, we saw a 4x increase in returns processing capabilities  

       -Rent the Runway 

5. Competitive Advantage

Convenience and efficiency are what customers expect.  Automated returns not only enhance a retailer’s ability to attract and retain customers but also what sets them apart from competitors who have yet to embrace this innovation. In a world where seamless experiences are now the norm, automated returns not only meet but exceed the demands of today’s customer demand.

Automated Returns Powered by Aila’s Interactive Kiosk 

Aila’s Interactive Kiosk redefines the in-store experience, seamlessly matching the convenience of online shopping. With its quick, user-friendly automated returns process, Aila offers a solution that’s intuitive, powerful, and adaptable, delivering exceptional performance and ROI. Moreover, Aila’s robust scanning capabilities cover more than 45 barcode types, even tackling challenging codes like small, damaged, blurry, or plastic-wrapped barcodes frequently encountered in retail store returns.


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