With as much as 30 percent of online goods and a whopping eight percent of all of the more than $375 billion in retail merchandise sales returned annually, it’s more important than ever that businesses consider returns when they’re making company-wide policies that affect customers.
Simple changes in your reverse logistics, like providing more flexible return policies and including pre-populated labels in shipments to shoppers can result in massive gains for stores of all sizes.
Making Easy Money With Easy Returns
Today’s shoppers have a wealth of stores to choose between when they’re ready to look for that perfect purchase.
Whether it’s a sweater, a Gucci bag or sports equipment, there’s more to creating the ideal experience than simply providing timely order fulfillment. Customers say they want better care, but often what they really want is an easy and hassle-free returns experience.
Here are three ways that easy returns mean more money in your coffers:
- Initial purchases are more likely. Although free shipping continues to be a big seller for shoppers, free and easier returns are also huge influences over whether a visitor will become a customer to begin with. According to a recent Walker Sands Communications study, 68 percent of shoppers are more likely to shop online if there are free returns available.Of that same population, 58 percent say they’re more likely to shop online if online returns are easy. UPS found that 72 percent of shoppers return less than 10 percent of their purchases, meaning that sometimes more really is more.
- Additional sales after a return. You may be concerned that returns mean an overall loss of revenue, but they can actually mean more sales. UPS’s study found that when returning to a store, 70 percent of customers make an additional purchase and even 45 percent make an additional purchase when returning items online.That number goes up dramatically for Millennials, with 75 percent buying something else in-store and 53 percent buying something extra online.
- A chance to mine some useful data. Not every return will be an opportunity for helpful data mining, but a surprisingly large number could. When you get returns, it’s important to ask the customer detailed questions about their reasons for sending the item back without making them feel like they’re being interrogated.The purpose is to learn more about your shop’s reality versus your customers’ expectations so you can eliminate a high percentage of avoidable returns. For example, if a particular item is returned regularly because customers expected it would be different in real life, that’s a site problem and not a shopper problem. You can minimize that item coming back to you again by improving your photos, adding a better description or clarifying specific issues.
Although you should always consider reverse logistics and return management when you’re running any kind of retail store, there are plenty of ways that being friendly and providing easy returns can result in a lot more money back in your pocket.