The rise of e-commerce and shifting consumer preferences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have brought reverse logistics into the spotlight. Often discounted as the back half of the supply chain equation, reverse logistics has now become an integral part of B2B and B2C business, as well as a key opportunity to improve customer satisfaction.

This year's respondents noted the importance of returns experience to customer loyalty. Roughly 75% of consumer-focused shippers rated the returns experience as being either very important or extremely important to consumer/customer loyalty, compared to only 43% of business-exclusive shippers. Both consumer-focused (64%) and business-exclusive (61%) shippers also reported that their customers' return expectations were growing.

As returns expectations continue to increase, the need for returns prevention increases as well. In the survey, shippers rated their organizations' effectiveness at understanding why consumers/customers make returns. A larger portion-21%-of consumer-focused shippers rated their organizations as extremely effective in this regard, compared to just 9% of business-exclusive shippers. An additional 7% of business-exclusive shippers reported that they did not track why consumers/customers made returns.