- XPO Logistics announced a new augmented reality (AR) feature for its Ship XPO application for consumers Wednesday morning, which could potentially save retailers thousands of dollars by preventing returns.
- The AR feature allows a consumer to see how a product — like a couch or a table — fits into his or her home, allowing the consumer to make a more informed decision before buying, thus decreasing the risk of returns.
- According to the press release provided to Supply Chain Dive, the new feature will be available on Ship XPO later this year.
Consumers prefer easy, in-store returns of items bought online, often because the returns process for online goods can be a hassle. As e-commerce sales rise, so do returns, so third party logistics providers (3PLs) are looking to streamline the process to save more money for their clients and better meet consumer demands.
More consumers are buying larger, bulky items online — like furniture — and 3PLs are adjusting to handling those bulky items, so helping consumers make educated choices about what items to buy can save much time and money on returns and retailers and 3PLs to accumulate fewer losses.
XPO isn't the only one looking to streamline or eliminate returns. FedEx recently launched a comprehensive returns tool that allows e-commerce companies to trace a returned order from the consumer all the way back to the warehouse.
AR hasn't made a huge splash in logistics yet. So far, it's mainly been used to simulate working environments to train workers in warehouses or assembly lines, but if the technology successfully lowers the rate of returns for retailers working with XPO and increases consumer satisfaction, then more 3PLs may adopt it.
"Augmented reality enhances the efficiency of the entire last mile process, reducing time inside the home and the risk of product damage," said Troy Cooper, president of XPO Logistics in the press release.
XPO's move aligns with the 3PL's broader initiative to become a global tech company, which is also right on trend with other 3PLs as they roll out new tech to help their clients better serve consumers. Logistics is a fiercely competitive market right now, so capitalizing on a new trend — like rising online furniture sales — is a strategic move.