Do you recognize that disappointment when you buy a product online expecting it to look great, but it doesn’t? Or, do you rush to try on the multiple products you’ve ordered to see which ones you want to keep?
If so, you’re not alone. The number of products being returned is increasing – in the U.S. alone, Statista estimates return deliveries will cost $550 billion by 2020. Retailers looking to compete with Amazon need to recognize that the delivery experience doesn't end after the item is in the hands of the buyer. By providing a simple and convenient returns process, you are ensuring a positive experience at every stage of the customer journey and increasing the likelihood of creating repeat customers. According to Metapack research, 49% of U.S. shoppers say they would shop more with a retailer that made the returns process easier, showing that returns are a make or break part of the purchasing experience.
So, what can retailers do to get this right?
Keep it clear to reduce basket abandonment
Finding the right returns policy is a headache for consumers. Not only have 42% of shoppers reported finding it difficult to find returns information on an eCommerce website, but 56% said a company’s returns policy had also deterred them from shopping with them. Consumers want a simple to understand returns policy that they can access easily. Hiding the returns policy in a “Contact Us” page suggests that there’s something to hide about the returns process. So be upfront and make sure your returns policy is visible.
Offer flexibility and convenience
Consumers want ease and flexibility to choose the returns options that fit their needs. What can you offer? At minimum, retailers need to be able to offer a free standard returns service. More than half (53%) of global shoppers avoid retailers that don’t offer free returns.
Beyond free returns, consumers want an easy returns process with several different options to choose from. In the U.S., 50% of consumers prefer to return their items by mail and 43% prefer to drop off their returns at the retail store. This often results in additional in-store purchases, so the more retailers can provide in-store returns as an option, the better.
Think locally to expand globally
If you want to appeal to global consumers, you need to understand the local preferences. Even neighboring countries can have different preferences when it comes to how they want to return goods.
Take a look at Europe. Returns by mail is popular for some – 53% of Germans prefer to mail returns, compared to 50% in the UK. But in France, customers are split over other returns options with 50% of consumers preferring Pick-Up Drop-Off points and 46% preferring to drop items off at a retailer’s store. And in Spain, 47% of consumers prefer courier pick-ups. Understanding the unique needs for each market is key in ensuring you can provide the right delivery options to compete in the global landscape.
The value of getting returns right
Determining the right returns strategy is complex and time consuming. But retailers and brands that can capitalize on returns are well positioned to increase customer loyalty, while optimizing costs as the volume of returns increases every year. Amazon’s success shows that returns are a crucial part of the delivery experience and consumers will only become more demanding. By providing your customers with returns options that are dynamic to their needs, you’ll be ahead of the curve in using returns to build brand loyalty and create repeat customers.