New Consumer Research Gets Real About Returns
Think about the last purchase you made online that you returned. Maybe the color wasn’t right. Perhaps you bought the wrong size. Or maybe that return is still somewhere in the abyss of your closet, holding your precious cash hostage and taking up space.
Whatever the reason for your return, you likely found it disappointing that the purchase didn’t work out. Increasingly, modern retailers and direct-to-consumer brands are investing in the post-purchase phase of the customer journey to ensure a fast, branded and seamless experience from end-to-end. This includes everything from a generous and easy-to-read return policy to offering instant credit to exchange or get something new at the point of return.
Merchants that understand customers by their post-purchase behavior will have a leg up on competitors to ensure profitable growth and keep hard-earned customers happy. Consider this: 73 percent of consumers say they won’t shop again with a brand after a poor returns experience. Now think back to that return of yours — will you shop with that brand again?
New research on consumer returns behavior is helping brands better understand and meet the ever-shifting needs of today’s modern shoppers. Read on for the most important findings and implications for retailers.
Meet Today’s Return Personas:
- The Loyalist: The Loyalist is a brand’s best customer — even though they're three times more likely to return than others, they buy even more frequently. Loyalists account for 39 percent of a brand’s revenue, but they’re few and far between, making up just 10 percent of the customer base.
- The Now Returner: Used to getting things right away; expects instant gratification and quick fixes when problems arise. Most likely to inbound support asking, “where is my refund?”
- The First-Time Returner: Quick to add items to the shopping cart but slow to click “buy,” these shoppers will browse the returns policy and abandon carts unless it’s generous and easy to understand.
- The Lazy Returner: Makes returns on their own time (often three weeks after an order has been delivered). Menswear beware. Male shoppers are 50 percent more likely to be Lazy Returners than women.
- The Fitting Room Returner: Buys multiples of the same item in different colors and sizes to try on at home, then returns what they don’t want.
- The Policy Abuse Returner: Buys with no intention to keep, and uses returns as a way to get something they want for free (like waived shipping fees).
Mobile or Desktop? It Depends on the Price
The majority of shoppers (56 percent) use mobile to start their return. However, when the return is valued at $300 or more, 72 percent opt to use desktop. This suggests that modern shoppers are still wary of the mobile experiences when returning high-priced items.
Returns Are Now Part of the Morning Routine
Returns increase gradually during the morning and reach their peak between 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. This is likely due to people making returns part of their morning routine, as well as having access to printers at work.
Women vs Men
Women are nearly 1.5 times more likely to return products than men, and slightly faster to take action, with 25 percent returning one day after they receive their item compared to 22 percent of men.
What kind of returner is most prevalent in your business? And what persona are you? Use these consumer insights as a blueprint to help your brand offer memorable experiences that turn First-Time Returners into Loyalists. The best retailers know that the journey’s not done once they make the sale.
Eduardo Vilar is founder and CEO of Returnly, a post-purchase payments company that helps online retailers and brands bring frictionless returns to the modern shopper.