We live in an “I want it all, and I want it now” world, and 2022 is no exception. Consumer expectations are at an all-time high, partially fueled by “instant” returns offered by the likes of Amazon and Zappos. As an online retailer, are you feeling the pressure to keep up with mega-brands on your shipping and return policy? As a seller based outside the US, you may be experiencing additional issues due to the time it takes for products to be returned internationally.
Shipwizard has solutions for easing the pain.
e-Commerce Returns Statistics 2021
Consumers return a staggering $643 billion worth of products every year, according to IHL. The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, reported that approximately 10.6 percent of total U.S. retail sales in 2020 resulted in a return. This means that for every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer incurs $106 million in merchandise returns. According to a survey of 62 retailers conducted by NRF, the top categories of merchandise returned include auto parts (19.4%), apparel (12.2%), home improvement (11.5%) and housewares (11.5%). Expectations for online returns are growing. In fact, 80% of customers expect to be able to return purchases for free.
Online shopping has turbocharged the returns process because consumers often shop online with plans to return some of the goods they buy. Whether it’s gifts a friend doesn’t like or an attempt to reclaim some money spent in a holiday-inspired online shopping spree, returns are inevitable, particularly after the peak holiday season.
Why Are Products Returned?
Returns are never fun for a retailer, whether the purchase was made in-store or online. But online returns hit deeper and unfortunately, they’re also more common. For in-store purchases, about 5-10% will be returned. But when it comes to online sales, returns rates jump much higher, as high as 15 – 40%. For industries such as fashion, more than half of online purchases are returned.
Here are some of the top reasons for returns:
- The products don’t meet expectations
- The customer received the wrong product or the wrong size
- The product does not match the product description
- The order arrived damaged to the customer
- Customers purchased multiples with an intent to return
Reason #5, purchasing multiple sizes, colors, or options to see what fits them best, is a common online shopping practice. Online shoppers cannot touch or feel fabric, see colors or textures, try on the clothes. Some want to try products on at home before they fully commit. As consumers, we have all done it. Not sure if this brand’s version of sky blue will bring out your eyes? Get the top in sapphire blue also. Wondering if your growing teen needs a small or medium in his favorite style of basketball shorts? Order both now, return later. As many as 30% of shoppers deliberately over-purchase and return unwanted items.
How Your e-Commerce Store Can Handle Returns from U.S. Customers
Handling returns from U.S. customers is an essential part of any e-commerce brand doing business stateside. Handling returns in a way that delights customers and makes them your brand’s biggest fans can sound like a daunting task, but is absolutely possible. It starts with a compelling and fair returns policy.
The basic tenets of an attractive returns policy and returns process are fairly straightforward:
- Craft a fair and competitive returns policy, spelling out what items can be returned, in what condition, and the return window: 30 days, 60 days, or longer.
- Provide clear return instructions, listing the steps for the customer to follow.
- Maintain a positive customer experience by focusing on long-term brand reputation and customer loyalty, over short-term results. This does not mean bending over backwards for every customer. Clear and prompt communication goes a long way to creating a positive shopping and returns experience.
- Issue refunds as soon as the order is received: if you refund orders quickly and effectively, you demonstrate your commitment to customer service. When customers receive their money back quickly, they are encouraged to order again.
- Provide a convenient return location in the US: every day counts, and if you are able to receive a returned item at a location that is within easy reach of your customer, the return is processed that much quicker.
To meet these expectations of a compelling return policy, whether domestic or cross-border, brands in 2022 are leveraging an increased number of returns processing locations, closer to the consumer. This strategy leads to lower costs, faster refunds, and an enhanced customer experience.
A convenient return location in the U.S. is within the reach of any international vendor when they partner with a returns management provider.
Partner With ShipWizard for Your International Returns Needs
Cross-border purchases shouldn’t be a headache to return, so at Shipwizard, we have made the process easy both for you and your customers. With an international reverse logistics expert in your corner, you can reduce shipping costs, by shortening the distance a return travels.
We work closely with your retail operation – both web-based and brick-and-mortar businesses – to make sure that your reverse logistics process is comprehensive and covered from end-to-end. Whether you sell dresses from Denmark or artisanal handbags from Portugal, our returns management service is available to receive and quickly process returns from your U.S. customers. While we have a full suite of tools available, our service is fully customizable to the way you do business.
We manage the entire merchandise returns process for you and your customers, from the point at which your customer decides to return an item, to receiving the return on our end to processing it accordingly. Our strategic location in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, is the East Coast hub, located within easy reach of major international ports. Our new warehouse location in Phoenix, AZ, makes returns even easier and faster for customers west of the Mississippi. Above all, we make sure that your U.S. customers have a positive and productive experience that leaves them feeling loyal and eager to continue doing business with you.
With an easy and flexible return experience, customers will remain committed to your brand even if an item doesn’t come as they expected. Make your supply chain more efficient, less costly, and more sustainable with international returns management from ShipWizard.