Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. Consumers who purchase from a mobile device want to return the same way! I repeat. Consumers who purchase from a mobile device want to return the same way. With one third of ecommerce orders (that's $114 billion in 2013) being placed on a mobile device you would think e-tailers would have mobile return options available, but that is not the case. Consumers are still required to use old-fashioned methods including visits to web portals, completing/affixing pre-packaged return labels (limiting inbound item visibility) or placing the dreaded phone call (perish the thought) to customer service - a processes that usually infuriates shoppers, and wastes time and money. So why has mobile return technology lagged so far behind?

For starters, many e-tailers don't want to simplify returns. Everyone's got a problem with them. For merchants, there's a fine line between visibility of incoming items and satisfying consumers who don't want to contact the store to get return approval. Many stores don't have the metrics to truly measure the profitability and effectiveness of their return programs. For consumers who demand simplicity and choice, some policies send them clamoring for an alternative.

Another reason for the absence of a mobile return solution might be due to the time merchants have dedicated to fixing other, more pressing problems. At the forefront; how to stop Amazon.com from putting them out of business and, perhaps, how to avoid another holiday delivery catastrophe. For the record, these are the top 10 issues e-tailers have with returns:
1. Poor consumer experience - unhappy customers
2. Loss of revenue
3. Increased shipping costs
4. Increased handling/labor costs
5. Lower profit
6. Chronic "returners" (how to avoid selling to them)
7. Fewer conversions / lack of customer loyalty
8. Lack of business intelligence (BI)
9. Incorrect items being returned/theft
10. Visibility of returning inventory

While Amazon.com is systematically taking over the planet (demonstrating power that would make Vladimir Putin envious) they are continually setting the bar for rapid home delivery at the lowest shipping cost as we all know, however, their return options have not changed in years and believe it or not, there is no mobile option. Packing slips and return labels included in every shipment only worsen the problem since these items are largely ignored and simply end up incinerated or in our landfills.

There are many ways to get ahead of the pack in the area of returns especially if you offer a simple paperless mobile return option. It is also important to understand consumer problems/demands to properly design the experience.

Here are the top five issues consumers have with returns:
1. Customer service. Consumers do not want to call customer service departments to initiate a return. Where this is a requirement, unhappy customers abound. The process is long, drawn out and the caller knows they are going to get "put through the mill" while the person they are speaking with is reading from a boring and tedious script. In today's world it doesn't make sense to hassle your customer.
2. Visiting a website. By today's standards this is a struggle, especially with the millennial generation (ages 18 - 34). Dreading this option, consumers either don't return (never to buy again from the same store) or take the full 30, 60 or 360 days (time given by various merchants) to return the item(s).
3. Waste. Billions of packing slips and return labels designed to simplify the return process generate tons of waste. Environmentally conscious shoppers want to eliminate waste but have very little choice.
4. No carrier choice. Today's consumer can easily find their most convenient carrier drop off point. They want to use their preferred carrier, not whom the merchant forces them to use. They also do not want to pay skyrocketing retail shipping prices.
5. No mobile return option. Remember: those who order from a mobile device want to return the same way!
What can be done to help e-tailers win business and delight consumers? Go mobile! If your ecommerce store still requires a manual time-consuming RMA process, it's time to get rid of it. This process along with virtually every other return process can be completely automated via a mobile device with all applicable business rules governing the process. That will save money, help the environment and delight consumers. Those that get it, will win big in the coming holiday season and beyond. Are you prepared for the mobile return revolution?