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The past few years delivered unprecedented growth in online shopping and a corresponding explosion in return rates. Ecommerce returns are now two to three times greater than returns for brick-and-mortar purchases. In 2021, one out of five of online purchases were returned.

Simultaneously, omnichannel retailers began to realize that returns present a unique opportunity to engage with shoppers. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your dedication to making their return experience seamless—no matter the channel. It's a way to retain their loyalty, nudge them to become your "best" consumers, and increase your revenue and drive foot traffic, through targeted incentives. (About 20% of consumers who buy-online-return-in-store make an additional purchase – more if you incentivize them.)

Retailers ahead of the curve offer differentiated experiences to their consumers on top of the expected basic capabilities. Are you one of those retailers?

How much do consumers value a frictionless return? According to Incisiv's Omnichannel Returns Index Report, a staggering 95% of shoppers say that they are much less likely to purchase from a brand again if they had an unpleasant return experience.

As online shoppers' expectations continue to evolve, some retailers adapt to this new landscape better than others. The ones ahead of the curve offer differentiated experiences to their consumers on top of the expected basic capabilities. Are you one of those retailers?

Incisiv’s Omnichannel Returns Index lays out which foundational capabilities consumers expect from retailers when initiating an ecommerce return:

 

  • Separate return policies available for in-store and online purchases
  • Option to buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS)
  • Ability to exchange or replace products
  • Availability of self-help solutions
  • Option to provide instant feedback

 

If you are going to differentiate your company by curating elevated experiences for consumers, you need to provide even more helpful tools and services, such as:

 

  • Return options for items without an invoice
  • Ability to schedule a return pickup, UPS drop off, or curbside
  • Waived or limited return costs like shipping and restocking fees
  • Opportunity to initiate returns via chat, call, or online

 

According to the same study, consumers crave access to shopping tools that help them avoid having to make returns. Sizing tools help overcome one of the leading reasons for returns in any channel. Access to product reviews and ratings, using AR/VR simulators, or being able to speak with a brand expert, helps the consumer answer the question, “Will this work for me?” And if post-purchase they decide the answer is “no,” they want the option to adjust or cancel the order.

Shopping has changed drastically, and it is increasingly important to provide a frictionless experience to your consumer in-store and online. Capabilities that were cutting edge a few years ago are now expected. To impress consumers, you need to expand your services while providing transparency.

How to Turn Returns into a Rewarding Consumer Experience

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Author

Tom Rittman, Vice President, Marketing, Appriss Retail

Tom Rittman, vice president of Marketing at Appriss Retail, is responsible for all aspects of branding, marketing, and business development. Prior to joining Appriss Retail, Tom served as the vice president of marketing for Datavantage, a retail technology company that is now part of Oracle. He holds his bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Akron.

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