Roughly a quater of shoppers are willing to pay for added convenience such as scheduled home pickup when returning items, but less than half of retailers currently charge any kind of return shipping or restocking fee, a new study by Narvar has found.
The post-purchase customer experience firm added that means retailers have a clear opportunity to make customers happier by providing more choice when it comes to returns, while also getting inventory back in stock more quickly.
Its 6th annual State of Returns consumer survey report and 2022 Returns Benchmark Report, which analyses the published return policies of 200 retailers, also found that 26% of shoppers had returned more than four items in the last six months, with apparel and footwear accounting for 46% of recent returns.
With consumers increasingly adopting third-party drop-off locations. Some 37% of shoppers surveyed returned their most recent online purchase by dropping it off at a third-party location (e.g., a UPS store). Third-party drop-off adoption has grown steadily for four years now, from 11% in 2019 to 19% in 2022, reflecting shopper demand for a wider range of convenient return methods.
Furthermore, the majority of shoppers still request refunds rather than exchanges with 63% of respondents said they asked for a refund when making their most recent return with a non-Amazon retailer. That suggests retailers have a significant opportunity to impact the bottom line by converting these refund requests into exchanges, even if they are for items of different value.
Poor fit remains the top reason for returns as for the sixth year in a row, “fit and size” was survey respondents’ top reason for returns (45%), among both first-time shoppers (22%) and loyalists (78%). The trend indicates that retailers have yet to maximise their AR and fit technology investments or unlock the full value of the sizing data customers are providing.
While, bracketing is here to stay as 63% of shoppers surveyed admitted to bracketing, up from 55% in 2019. A growing number of shoppers (15%) say bracketing is “just how they shop now.”
Additionally, when asked to identify what makes a VIP/loyalty program great, respondents cited instant refunds (77%) and home pickup (76%) as the top benefits. However, many customers will happily accept store credit if it’s delivered instantly or if it provides additional value (such as an extra 10% of the refund amount to spend in-store).
“Our research shows that shoppers are undoubtedly benefiting from retailers’ generous return policies,” said Amit Sharma, CEO of Narvar.
“Return windows are getting longer, refunds are happening faster, and technology is making returns easier than ever before—boosting customer satisfaction. There is a significant opportunity here for retailers to increase loyalty and retain revenue by offering differentiated and personalised return policies that meet different customers’ needs.”
This episode looks at:
What impact does the length of time that returns can be made have on returns – and on sales?
How to tackle serial returners, wardrobing and staging.
How to handle the influx of post-Black Friday returns.
Will inflation make consumers look closer at delivery and returns costs?