- 93 percent of shoppers say a free return policy is important
- 60 percent of respondents “would buy again” from a brand that offers free returns and exchanges
- 70 percent of consumers say they’re “deterred from buying online by having to pay for return shipping”
Dotcom Distribution’s 2019 eCommerce consumer study as reported in Inc.
The rise of ecommerce has been on a steady upswing for many years now as more and more consumers gain confidence, trust and familiarity with online shopping (read more on Technology Trends & Implications for Retailers). As sales increase, so does the competition, and gaining new buyer loyalty is of paramount concern. At the top of consumer’s wish list is a free, simple, no-hassle return policy like those offered by Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and others.
Use return policies to gain trust & avoid bad reviews
For retailers that are entering the ecommerce space, or are struggling to gain a foothold, it’s important to remember that return policies are now a huge opportunity for attracting new buyers and boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty (read more on Return Policies).
Inc. recently published new data on the continuing trends of what makes for a great return policy that customers will embrace. As many could predict, if the customer has a bad experience when making a return, this often times turns into the dreaded one- or two-star review, negative tweets, Instagram or Facebook posts.
Return policy best practices
Return policy best practice dictate that a brand’s return policy should be clearly outlined to the buyer, both online when they’re shopping and within the package they receive. Here’s a quick summary of what makes for a return policy that consumers can support (and expect):
- Free shipping: When offering free return shipping, it’s important to build the shipping cost in the product price; otherwise the cost of shipping, processing, warehousing and repackaging can add up quick.
- Simplicity: Give consumers clearly defined, simple steps on how to go about returning a product. Some retailers even include a return shipping label in the product box.
- Buy online, return in store: an increasing number of consumers are preferring to buy online and return in store. In fact, customers now value in-store pickups and returns over free returns and exchanges, according to the Inc. survey. A good example is the partnership between Amazon and Kohl’s where consumers can buy through Amazon but return the items at a local Kohl’s. For SMB ecommerce brands that don’t have their own brick-and-mortar stores, one possibility is to work through a fulfillment provider.
- Build a database: retailers should look at each return as a learning experience. When a consumer makes a return, the retailer’s database should be updated with the order number, customer name and address, and if possible, the reason for the return (additional research shows that consumers aren’t always honest when speaking to a manager in a store, but are more upfront with an online form. Read more on how to collect honest feedback).
Partner with B-Stock to sell overstock and returned items
When a retailer does implement a free, no-hassle return policy, it’s best to plan for when those returns start rolling in. Research shows that retailers can expect up to 30% of all online sales to be returned. These returns will increase costs due to shipping, receiving, storing and processing. To offset those costs, retailers need a system in place to sell returned and overstocked items that can no longer go on the shelf as new.
Nine of the top ten U.S. retailers have already partnered with B-Stock to sell overstocked goods through a private, auction marketplace. This technology-driven approach will increase recovery rates on consumer returns and will keep warehouse inventory moving.