AI for Retail Returns and Dynamic Customer Return

By | January 24, 2024
AI in Retail Returns

AI in Processing Retail Returns

Big session at NRF 2024 with KIOSK, Inmar and Lenovo going over the use of AI in processing retail returns. Pretty large decision tree which enables dynamic processing of customers and the the various types of. Shades of gray are now operable parameters so to speak.


Here is link to video

AI in retail: A comprehensive example of industry digital transformation from The National Retail Federation on Vimeo.



  • Inmar is largest handler of returns in US
  • Over 600 million returns in 2023
  • Most obvious install is Whole Foods and Amazon
  • The cost of customer experience and cost for re-acquiring customer factors
  • Important decisions
    • Customers will travel up to 2 miles for location
    • Will it be box-free or label-free return?
    • Free returns?
  • Ways AI Helps
    • Can generate dynamic policy based on the customer
    • e.g. instant refund or free return determination
  • Global solution that works internationally

About Whole Foods Returns

retail return kiosk

Retail return kiosk. Click for full size…

Whole Foods return kiosks are self-service stations where you can drop off your Amazon packages for free returns. You don’t need a box or a label, just a QR code from your Amazon account. You can find the return kiosks at select Whole Foods Market locations, along with other options such as customer service desks, Amazon counters, and Amazon lockers12. To start your return, you can visit Amazon’s Online Return Center and choose your preferred store as the drop-off location2. Then, you can bring your item to the kiosk, scan the QR code, and follow the instructions on the screen. The kiosk will provide you with a bag and a label for your package, and you can leave it in the designated bin. The kiosk is open during the store hours, and you can check the availability of this service at your store by visiting Whole Foods Market’s website.


We were recently in one of the Whole Foods just after Christmas and our WF has just one return kiosk. There was a small crowd and WF had set up a table with an employee offering to take your return.

Not enough return kiosks to handle the customer burst flow.

Wouldn’t it be nice if retail had dynamic, scalable and forecasted customer interaction mechanisms?  Instead of a limited static infrastructure?

One of these days maybe even the Self-Checkout units will be able to multitask instead of being a one-trick pony

Statistics and Data for Retail Returns

Yes, there are some statistics about retail returns by customers. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail1, some key findings are:

  • Total returns account for over $761 billion in lost sales for U.S. retailers in 2021
  • For every $1 billion sales, the average retailer incurs $166 million in merchandise returns
  • For every $100 in returned merchandise accepted, retailers lose $10.30 to return fraud
  • Receipted returns are a hidden risk from behaviors like shoplifting, collusion, wardrobing and more

Customer Return Resources

Customer Return Related Links


Author: Staff Writer

Craig Keefner -- With over 40 years in the industry and technology, Craig is widely considered to be an expert in the field. Major early career kiosk projects for him include Verizon Bill Pay kiosk and hundreds of others. Craig helped start kioskmarketplace before leaving. Note that the point of view here on kioskindustry is not necessarily the stance of the Kiosk Association or