Improving Product Returns Presents Opportunity for Retailers
While 86 percent of consumers are satisfied with the overall experience of shopping online, retailers can improve customer satisfaction even more by making it easier for consumers to return or exchange items, according to a report presented at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago last week. The report, Online Shopping Customer Experience Study, evaluated consumer shopping habits from pre-purchase to post-delivery. It was commissioned by UPS and based on a comScore survey of 3,100 U.S. online shoppers in February.
When it comes to online customer satisfaction, the report found consumers are most satisfied with ease of checkout (83 percent), variety of brands/products (82 percent) and online tracking ability (79 percent). Online shoppers are least satisfied with the flexibility of shipping, including the flexibility to choose a delivery date (58 percent), rerouted packages (57 percent), and the ease of making returns and exchanges (65 percent).
Returns are an important part of the online shopping experience, according to the report. In fact, 63 percent of those surveyed said they look for a website's returns policy prior to making a purchase, and nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of online shoppers have returned a product purchased online. Half of customers who plan to return a product visit a retailer's website to find its returns policy. As a result, having an easy-to-find returns policy will enhance the customer experience and reduce the number of inbound customer service calls, the report found.
What's more, a clear returns policy will likely lead to recommendations and repeat business from online shoppers, since almost half of the respondents said they'd be likely to ship more often with a retailer or recommend a retailer to a friend if the retailer has a lenient and easy-to-understand returns policy. More than one-third of respondents said they'd drop another retailer with a less easy returns policy.
Attitudes towards returns don't vary substantially by product category, the report found. Whether buying jewelry, apparel or pet supplies, shoppers have similar attitudes about returns.
In addition to having a good returns policy, it's important for retailers to also provide a good returns experience, the report found. Online shoppers who have returns prefer the inclusion of a return label in their original package or access to an easy-to-print label. An automatic refund is also very important to ensuring a good returns experience, the report noted.
Finally, besides having to pay for return shipping, paying a restocking fee, waiting too long for a credit and having difficulty returning items to shipping companies are key factors that constitute a bad returns policy, according to the report.