Examining the hidden opportunity within your returns policy
With ecommerce sales rising and consumer preferences driving retail strategies, returns are set to become the next customer experience differentiator.
The need to process returns is going nowhere, but progressive retailers view them less as a “necessary evil” and more as an opportunity to differentiate and delight.
Returns — The Current State of Play
With retailers obliged to meet the growing consumer expectation of free returns — and factoring in aspects such as product wastage and costly “reverse logistics” — it’s estimated that returns cost UK retailers around £60 billion a year. While US consumers are set to return half a trillion dollars worth of products in 2022.
Who’s hit hardest? Certain verticals are particularly vulnerable, and apparel is a clear front runner. In 2021, for example, 26% of returned products in the US were clothing items. Shoes can expect around a 12% return rate, while consumer electronics short circuit at a costly 8%.
As online sales increase and consumer behaviors evolve, retailers must take action now to mitigate the impact of returns — and to access the advantage they can unlock. Far from being an economic burden to businesses, returns are an opportunity to differentiate on customer service and experience.
Why should ecommerce retailers be paying particular attention to their strategy here? Recent statistics suggest that the return rate of products bought in brick-and-mortar stores is 8–10%. This jumps to 18% for online sales, suggesting that this opportunity is especially high for those selling through digital channels.
When Returns Go Right
An investment in your returns experience is an investment in your customer experience. Here are some best practices you can implement to keep customers happy:
- Transparency. You can reduce returns by applying some positive psychology. Flagging the environmental impacts of returns by politely offering customers a chance to offset them, may prove a better motivating factor than leveraging an aggressive and punitive returns policy.
- Reassure, reassure, reassure. The returns experience starts before anything has been purchased. Reassure nervous customers with clear and prominent returns policies. Adding Disputify’s Instant Refunds product is one way merchants are building trust with their customers, offering a reassuring visual shorthand that communicates a fuss-free returns experience.
- Consider your copywriting. Make sure your returns policies and experience are reflective of your brand’s personality. See returns as a true customer experience touchpoint, and act accordingly. Don’t suddenly switch to a stuffy, official tone if that’s not your brand’s typical presentation.
- Be better than your closest competition. See what they’re offering and go one better.
Past the Point of No Return
As ecommerce sales increase, return rates will inevitably rise. Retailers looking to minimize their impact should embrace the potential of the returns experience. Once seen as part of “boring but necessary” operations, returns have become a differentiator for retailers.
Returns directly influence consumer choices. Customer-obsessed retailers and brands who invest in upgrading their returns policies will become the new customer experience trailblazers.
Build trust, increase conversions, and reduce refund rates with Instant Refunds — upgrade your returns policy today!