During the holiday season, online shopping and returns go hand-in-hand. Here’s all that you need to know about returns during the peak.
Holidays are a time of incredible opportunity for sales and revenue growth for retailers. During the peak season, many pin their focus on bountiful holiday sales and prefer not to think about sales that will eventually become returns. While a return process can be tedious and resource intensive, under-prioritizing a smooth and efficient return process can be a costly oversight. For consumers, confidence in a smooth return process can heavily influence how positively or negatively they view a brand, and is a determining factor as to which retailers they choose for their purchases.
Some Returns are Preventable
One way to provide an excellent order return experience is to eliminate the need for returns. In some cases, customers return items due to their order expectations not being met. Fortunately, there are simple practices eCommerce retailers can implement that are proven to reduce the likelihood of a return.
- Details and descriptions. Clear and thorough descriptions can provide customers with the best possible understanding of a product offering. Product titles should be exact and complete. Images and videos need to be as detailed as possible, providing a strong understanding of the size, fit, and/or functionality of the items
- Reviews. Reviews are a fantastic way for customers to learn more about the products from other buyers. A review can provide answers to frequent questions, feedback, and offer comparisons to other products.
- Questions. Allowing potential buyers to ask product questions to be answered by confirmed buyers, the retailer, or the manufacturer can reduce risk and uncertainty.
- A matter of policy. A clear and easily understandable return policy should be available and easy for customers to find.
Other Returns are Inevitable
For some orders, returns may be unavoidable and even a part of the plan. Gifts are particularly vulnerable, as it can be difficult to choose the perfect gift, ideal size, or desired style for loved ones. Furthermore, a subset of your customers will place their orders already planning a full or partial return. Increasingly, customers are ordering multiple products, allowing them to choose the item(s) they desire and return the remainder.
From a recent Oracle Study–
- Not having state-of-the-art technology to manage the fulfillment process
- Lack of visibility into inventory
- Customer problems or queries not being resolved promptly
- KPIs agreed upon are not met or neglected
All or some of the above factors should be a red flag for you to start assessing your partner’s performance in critical areas such as:
- Nearly 70% of generation-Z and millennials are likely to order extra sizes to ensure that they can get the right fit, color, or style in a single order. One-quarter of baby boomers follow the same practice.
- Sixty-three percent of parents report they will order multiple sizes of a product. Nearly half of parents anticipate returning one-quarter to one-half of holiday gifts.
- Members of the generation-Z report that 57% are likely to return every gift they receive, while 42% of the overall population plans to return some or all of their gifts.
- Forty-six percent of men and thirty-eight percent of women plan to make holiday gift returns.
- Eighty-two percent of all surveyed made at least one return in the last twelve months.
Customers Care How Well Their Returns are Managed
When surveyed, 42% of customers said that a difficult exchange policy creates a terrible shopping experience; this ranked above order and shipping delays, poor checkout experiences, and out-of-stock items. Additionally, many customers will not order from online retailers again if they have a difficult return experience.
Managing returns well can be every bit as important as a well-designed webpage, competitive prices, and fast delivery. According to the study, the consequences of a slow, difficult, or argumentative process can be severe and potentially cause irreparable damage to your brand’s reputation.
- Almost half of the shoppers will never shop from a retailer again after going through a sub-standard return experience.
- After a poor return experience, nearly half of Generation-Z reported they would be willing to give a retailer a second chance, while half reported they would forever abandon the company.
- Baby boomers were the least forgiving of a poor experience, with 52% considering a poor return process unforgivable, and would result in total loss of patronage
During the holiday season, and throughout the year, the return process deserves attention and priority. In some cases, returns can be avoided with excellent product descriptions, photos, reviews, and interactive questions. Other returns are unavoidable. It is imperative that the return process is quick, clear, and hassle free.
Implementing a world-class return process will lead to higher customer satisfaction, retention, and a positive brand reputation. To learn more about how to set up a best-in-class return process, contact XPDEL today!
XPDEL is a leading hi-tech provider of fulfillment and logistics services, on a mission to enable growth for eCommerce companies. Our existing customers know that our core competencies are focused on helping them grow. We are futuristic in our vision and constantly work to create technology that allows us to meet customer expectations for today and tomorrow. Our vast network of fulfillment centers places us closer to your customers and enables us to deliver more quickly and efficiently than the competition.