Narvar picks up returns at customer homes

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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As return volumes climb, Narvar is picking up items in customer homes.

A third-party returns management platform is making it easier for customers to return items.

Narvar is rolling out its Home Pickup service on the heels of a successful holiday 2021 pilot with retailers that included DSW and Ann Taylor.  The company  is launching the new carrier-agnostic returns service after testing it with more than 70 retailers in all. Narvar, a carrier-agnostic service that enables consumers to drop off returns from multiple retailers at partner locations including Mall of America, Simon, and Walgreens and Nordstrom.

In addition, retailers including specialty footwear/accessories brand Cole Haanhave integrated with the UPS Digital Returns service and the Narvar customer engagement platform to enable no-label and boxless returns of its merchandise at nearly 5,000 The UPS Store locations. Returns are packaged and labeled at The UPS Store, with a nominal fee for the service.

The new Narvar in-home returns pickup service is currently available in 10 major metropolitan markets, with plans to expand to about 100 in the next few months, providing virtually nationwide coverage. According to Narvar, retailers participating in the holiday pilot reported high customer satisfaction scores and speedier return times, and the service enables participating retailers to return items to the warehouse 25% faster.

While Walmart began offering in-home pickup of returned purchases as part of its broader InHome delivery service in January 2022, Narvar says it is the first returns management platform to offer this type of pickup service.

Online returns set to soar
Narvar is launching a new streamlined returns management service as the volume of returns continues to grow. Retailers expect more than $761 billion in merchandise sold in 2021 to be returned, according to a report from the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail. This accounts for an average of 16.6% of total U.S. retail sales, compared to 10.6% in 2020.  

Online sales accounted for $1.050 trillion of the $4.583 trillion of total U.S. retail sales in 2021, according to NRF. Approximately $218 billion of online purchases were returned, for an average of 20.8% of sales, up from 18.1% in 2020.

According to the survey, for every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer incurs $166 million in merchandise returns. It also found that for every $100 in returned merchandise accepted, retailers lose $10.30 to return fraud. 

The categories with the highest return rates in 2021 were similar to 2020: auto parts (19.4%), apparel (12.2% and home improvement and housewares (tied at 11.5%). The most common types of payment used during the original purchase that led to a return were credit cards (22.78%), cash (12.69%) and debit cards (7.04%).

“In today's highly competitive, trillion-dollar retail market, customer experience wins. Smart brands are increasing their investments in technology and services that not only make shopping easier and more convenient, but also positively impact the bottom line,” said Amit Sharma, founder and CEO of Narvar. “Home Pickup is the latest in Narvar's suite of services to bring convenience, choice, and operational efficiency to the returns process.”