Now 'tis the season for returning gifts. Returns annually reach their peak just after the holidays, putting even more pressure on retailers to get it right.
Regardless of the season, sales and customer retention are given a boost by an easy-to-understand policy and easy-to-complete returns process, according to a recent UPS study. Not only can the right returns policy reduce costs for a retailer, it also improves the customer experience and increases the likelihood that an infrequent, low-value customer will become a frequent, high-value one.
Sixty percent of online shoppers say free return shipping is a key element of a best returns experience.
Yet, the UPS study found that only 65 percent of shoppers are satisfied with the ability to process a return/exchange online. "A clearly worded, easily accessible policy is a positive for consumers on their path to purchase," says Jim Brill, reverse logistics marketing manager at UPS.
One example of the benefits of a customer-friendly return policy for online retailers is Zappos. The online shoe retailer offers unlimited free returns on any product and, according toFast Company, realized years ago that their most profitable customers are also the ones with a 50 percent return rate.
Online shoppers are definitely attuned to the differences in policies. According to another UPS study, Rethinking Online Returns, more than two thirds (68 percent) of online shoppers say they check an e-commerce website's returns policy before making a purchase. Further, 15 percent shoppers say they have abandoned a cart when a return policy is unclear.
"Your client base needs to know where you stand on returns, in terms of what you will do and not do," Brill says.
Based on the research and decades of experience working with retailers, Brill states that customers prefer return policies that:
Customer experience is the great differentiator for retailers, and returns are a crucial touch point for today's demanding shopper. According to the UPS shoppers' study, here are a few key elements:
Savvy retailers appreciate the long-term value that a generous, easy-to-use returns program offers. For example:
To learn more about returns, visit ups.com/returns and click here to download Volume 5 of the 2017 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper.
For the 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ Report, download here.
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