Accenture and USPS OIG to Share Latest Returns Research

“Return to the Future”

Registration Now OPEN!


August 2, 2018 (Arlington, Va.)  –  Joining the great line-up of speakers for the upcoming September 20, 2018, “Return to the Future” event to be held in Arlington, VA, are Brody Buhler, Global Managing Director, Post and Parcel industry, Accenture; and Dr. Ian Stanford, Public Policy Analyst, USPS Office of Inspector General (USPS OIG).

Both Buhler and Stanford are no stranger to PostalVision events, having presented at the group’s annual events for the past few years.  Buhler at the Sept. 20th event in his presentation titled, Reverse Logistics – the Next Battleground,” will present Accenture’s latest research on ecommerce returns, and Stanford will share the USPS OIG’s recent research around the reverse logistics supply chain and returns trends.

The September 20th event is a collaboration between PostalVision 2020 and the Reverse Logistics Association (RLA), and will focus on the growing opportunities, challenges, innovations and more being seen with product returns and reverse logistics.  The event will be held at the Schar School of Policy and Government, Founders Hall, George Mason University, in Arlington, VA, from 8:00 am – 5:30 pm, with onsite reception to follow from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm.  Sessions included in the one-day event agenda will cover topics such as an overview of the returns/reverse logistics supply chain, market trends, consumer & retailer perspectives, solutions from shippers and intermediaries, new technology and innovation in the ecosystem, new returns models and more!

In Accenture’s 2016 study, “Differentiating Delivery:  How to win the eCommerce battle,” one of the key strategies it identifies to make ecommerce the engine of growth for delivery organizations is that parcel returns impact financial returns.  Accenture also identified the #1 eStrategy as “happy consumers,” in that its study revealed “that the three most important delivery provider features for eTailers all relate to consumer needs.”  In its study, Accenture notes that about 30% of all products purchased online will be returned, and that 81% of consumers said they would shop more with a retailer that made returns easy.  And 79% of eTailers place returns capabilities among the most important criteria when evaluating a delivery provider, it said.  Buhler will present Accenture’s latest findings on returns at the Sept. 20th event!

Dr. Stanford has been a leading researcher with the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) in its study of the returns and reverse logistics market.  The OIG in April 2018 published its most recent research on returns and reverse logistics trends: “Riding the Returns Wave: Reverse Logistics and the U.S. Postal Service.”  As noted by the OIG in its report, “[r]everse logistics is not just forward logistics backwards; it is more complex and more expensive. Yet it is becoming more prominent, since return rates for ecommerce purchases are three times higher than for traditional physical retail.”  The OIG noted that the USPS handled 148 million return packages in FY2016, but “its share of the returns market is smaller than its share of the outbound parcel market, indicating a potential opportunity for growth.” It said the USPS can use “its unique advantages, including a vast delivery network that goes to almost every address in the U.S. and a retail network of more than 30,000 post offices, to expand and improve existing returns services and offer new services that will ease the burdensome returns process for customers.”

The OIG research includes data on the phenomenal growth of online purchase returns, which mirrors the growth in online purchases.  It reported that “the U.S. saw between $113 and $132 billion of online purchases returned in 2017.”  “Facing increased pressure on their reverse supply chains, as well as lost revenue from negated sales, retailers are struggling to address returns in an era when consumers have come to expect fast, free, and easy returns,” it noted.

Buhler and Stanford join the roster of confirmed speakers already announced for this great one-day event, including:

  • Academic Leaders Join Speaker Line-Up for Returns Event. The event will feature a keynote presentation on the impact of emerging online technologies on product returns by Dr. Michael Galbreth, Head of the Dept. of Business Analytics and Statistics at the University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business. In addition, the event will include introductory remarks by the Hon. David Williams, distinguished professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.
  • USPS Executives to Speak on Returns Solutions. USPS Vice President of Product Innovation Gary Reblin and USPS Director of Product Management, Shipping, Jay Smith both will be speaking at the returns event, with presentation focusing on how the USPS is working to build and enhance its product returns solutions and support the returns/reverse logistics and retail ecosystems.

More exciting speakers and panelists for the event will be announced in the coming weeks and will include representatives from academia, shippers/carriers and other supply chain businesses, retailers, and more!   If you are interested in participating as a speaker/panelist, please contact us.

For more information or to Register to attend the event, check out the PostalVision 2020 web site.  For information on sponsor and exhibit opportunities, contact John Sasso or John Callan.

Buhler_Brody_001_previewBrody Buhler
Global Managing Director, Post and Parcel industry

Brody Buhler is the global managing director of Accenture’s post and parcel industry group, leading a team of more than 1,800 postal consultants working with more than 20 major post and parcel clients around the world. Brody has worked with leading post and parcel organizations on a variety of projects including strategy, transformation, analytics, operations and large-scale program management. He has deep experience in post and parcel operations, digital, sales, marketing, mail and parcel tracking and revenue protection programs. Before joining Accenture, Brody owned a software development company that focused on production and quality control software. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and a Master of Accountancy degree, both from Brigham Young University, Utah. He lives with his wife and children in Virginia, U.S.A


Ian Stanford_OIGDr. Ian Stanford
Public Policy Analyst
USPS Office of Inspector General (USPS OIG)

Dr. Ian Stanford is a Public Policy Analyst at the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s Risk Analysis Research Center. His research focuses on how technological innovations and public policy can modernize and improve postal operations, particularly in the parcels market. Recently, he was part of a research team that wrote a white paper looking at how the Postal Service is adapting to ongoing trends in the Logistics Industry entitled The Evolving Logistics Landscape and the U.S. Postal Service. He currently leads a research team examining the role of the U.S. Postal Service plays in the reverse logistics industry.  Dr. Stanford received a Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Mason University and holds an MA and BA in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University. Prior to joining the USPS-OIG, he worked at Trinity Washington University teaching Social Science Research Methods in the Business and Graduate Studies Program.

About the Reverse Logistics Association (RLA)

The Reverse Logistics Association (RLA) is a members’ driven, global trade association for the returns and reverse industry, offering information, research, solutions and services for Manufacturers, Branded, and Retail companies from Third Party Providers. Our goals are to educate and inform Reverse Logistics professionals around the world, and be the voice of the reverse industry.  For more information, visit

About PostalVision 2020

The PostalVision 2020 Initiative Mission is “to serve as an independent transformative cause that inspires imaginative thinking, stimulates provocative conversation and influences the reinvention of American Postal Services in 2020 and beyond.”  Since 2011, we have been engaging stakeholders from all across the postal platform and beyond in a critical conversation about what future generations should have in the way of Postal Services in America.  For more information visit


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