Whether they’re shopping online or offline, consumer expectations have never been higher. They want more than quality products at a competitive price—they want a seamless experience, especially when it comes to returns, refunds, and exchanges. Moreover, consumers know retailers are capable of delivering that seamless experience, which is why they won’t think twice about shopping elsewhere if their favorite retailer misses the mark. The good news is, there are many ways to make shoppers happy and exceed expectations. From well-designed order tracking pages to proactive notifications that update shoppers at every stage of the post-purchase journey, there are countless ways to innovate beyond the “buy” button and delight your customers.
If cash is king, convenience is queen. Things like locker drop-off, home pickup, and boxless returns are becoming increasingly common. In fact, according to Narvar’s latest research, 50% of shoppers say they will use an alternative return method if it’s made available to them (up from 13% in 2019), with the #1 convenience requested being home pickup.
This kind of flexibility doesn’t just benefit the shopper, it benefits you as the retailer too. More convenient return options get products back to your stores and distribution centers 25% faster making it easy for you to restock depleted inventory and resell items (especially seasonal items) at full price. With returns volumes at an all time high, getting items back to the right place for restocking and resale with speed and precision is critical.
Intelligent dispositioning enables more than cost efficiency through smarter returns—it also enables you to lighten your carbon footprint. In fact, one Narvar client saved more than 500 million miles of package travel (a distance that could take you around the Earth 22,000 times) by using intelligent dispositioning to start routing returns to their nearest distribution center.
About one in five purchases is returned due to product damage. Some of the most common causes of product damage include:
Using data to flag any of these quality control issues in your fulfillment process will reduce returns related to damage and, by association, keep your customers happier (there are few things worse than waiting for a package only to discover your order is damaged upon arrival).
You can also use this data to get better visibility into the quality of the carriers you use—you can ship less volume with the carriers who consistently damage merchandise and more volume with the carriers who do a better job with fulfillment.
Just like order tracking, customers want to know the status of their return, refund, or exchange in real time. Sending proactive refund notifications from a variety of channels—or giving people the freedom to check refund status on their own via a returns portal—is something all shoppers love. More importantly, doing this takes a lot of pressure off customer service teams because it reduces the number of “Where is my refund?” (WISMR) inquiries they’re forced to field.
(As an example, Horizn Studios, a Berlin based luggage brand, reduced the amount of time their customer service team spent on returns support by 66%.)
Here’s the thing about returns—if the process is easy, customers are happier, and a happier customer is less likely to churn. Additionally, when the returns process is easy, shoppers are more likely to seek an exchange (or store credit) than they are to ask for a straight refund.
Unfortunately, six out of ten online shoppers don’t seek an exchange. Instead, they prefer to ask for a refund back to their original payment method. As a retailer, lowering this refund-seeker rate represents a huge financial opportunity—it’s low-hanging fruit that allows you to retain more revenue in the short-term while maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty in the long-term.
You can remove friction from the returns process by proactively suggesting similar items for exchange the moment a customer initiates a return. You can also offer incentives (e.g., “10% off your next purchase when you select store credit”) as a way to retain revenue while adding value for the customer.
Checkout Narvar’s latest research on retail return policies to see how you can improve your return policy to keep customers smiling.