A Positive Returns Experience is Critical to Customer Satisfaction and Retention
E-commerce returns have been a black hole for retailers. It has been challenging to understand the complete impact of product returns, as the process has typically been manual and reliant on paper-based systems. With no real insight into the overall effect of returns, they've been considered a necessary but unfortunate cost and therefore sidelined in terms of importance, particularly with regards to customers’ overall satisfaction and retention.
Given that retailers expect a spike in e-commerce returns after the significant increase in online shopping resulting from COVID-19, there has never been a better time than now for retailers to ensure their returns processes and systems are ready. This is evidenced by a recent survey that Doddle conducted to uncover how important the e-commerce returns experience is to consumers. The research found that almost three-quarters of respondents (74 percent) think retailers’ returns experiences need to be better.
The research of almost 1,400 U.S. consumers during May 2020 found that consumers value returns experiences just as much as delivery and payment experiences — even slightly more so. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said the returns experience is important with regards to their opinion of a retailer, with 83 percent saying the same for delivery and payment, respectively.
Following are additional highlights from the research:
- Eighty-four percent of respondents said a positive returns experience encourages them to shop with a retailer again.
- When asked what would make respondents reconsider shopping with a retailer in the future
- 60 percent said if they had to pay shipping fees to return an item;
- 40 percent said if it took a long time to secure a refund on their return;
- 38 percent said if the returns policy window was too short;
- 32 percent said if they need to obtain a return authorization from customer support; and
- 30 percent said if they weren't able to track a returned item.
- When asked what they would prefer from retailers when returning an item
- 68 percent of respondents said free returns;
- 45 percent said convenient locations to return an item(s) to;
- 44 percent said reusable/resealable packaging that can be used for returns;
- 41 percent said communications and visibility (e.g., tracking the parcel, confirmation of receipt, refund information, etc.);
- 38 percent said being refunded once the item has shipped; and
- 33 percent said no need to print a returns label.
What Does This Mean for Retailers?
This insight is now more critical than ever, as the coronavirus pandemic has generated a significant bump in e-commerce sales, with e-commerce returns only expecting to increase as well as a result. In fact, recent research from McKinsey & Company found that consumers largely expect to adopt long-term behavioral changes that will last beyond COVID-19, reporting an intent to shop online even as quarantining restrictions loosen — indicating that increased online shopping, and accompanying returns, are trends we should expect to continue.
Between the impending surge in e-commerce returns and the significant impact the returns process has on customer satisfaction and retention, the timing has never been better for retailers to get a solid handle on their e-commerce returns processes and systems. Retailers should look for platforms that digitize and streamline the returns journey for both consumers and retailers, to provide ease and convenience for consumers and knowledge for retailers that enables them to improve customer interactions and reduce costs.
For more information on the survey findings, visit https://www.doddle.com/us/the-returns-experience-is-critical/.
Dan Nevin is the North American CEO for Doddle Inc, a business that specializes in technology solutions for deliveries and returns, serving e-commerce and omnichannel retailers.
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Dan Nevin is the North American CEO for Doddle Inc, a business that specialises in technology solutions for deliveries and returns, serving e-commerce and omni-channel retailers.
Dan has held senior positions across retail, sales, and marketing over the past +15 years, and was part of the founding team of Groupon UK where he built out the Groupon Goods business to reach circa $1billion in annual sales. He since joined the senior leadership team at Pepperjam where he managed the sales team for North America.
Dan has a passion for retail, building successful partnerships, and delivering technology solutions that define a category.