You know why retailers’ efforts to reduce returns have been backfiring, but what about brands that have been making returns even easier and more accessible for customers?
These retailers are making a good name for themselves at a time when the e-commerce experience is more than just competitive prices and fast shipping. The buying experience is no longer stopping after customers click “buy now.”
“Today’s consumer mindset has changed,” stated Forbes. “Services like Amazon Prime have set the bar at a higher level, with speedy delivery, low prices, a vast selection and hassle-free returns.”
With many companies trying to dissuade returns, the retailers that are doing the opposite stand a good chance of not only retaining their customers but attracting new ones.
It’s true that it can be costly to offer free returns “with no strings attached,” but according to Shippo’s latest Returns Report, 96% of customers are “more likely to purchase if free returns are on the table.” Shippo, a leading shipping platform for growing e-commerce businesses, added in its 2023 Benchmarks Report that the solution is to find a middle ground “that makes customers feel they’re being treated fairly and keeps them coming back to your business.”
For example, companies may:
- Provide incentives to switch customers’ returns to exchanges, such as with an extra $10 to shop with.
- Analyze their data to see if there’s anything they can do to improve the customer experience, such as by extending return windows.
- Give customers their money back and tell them to keep or donate the product rather than return it.
This last tactic, in particular, is becoming a popular trend in retail, and it’s because many stores are already stuck with too much inventory, so returns just add to the products they need to deal with.
According to Business Insider, “Walmart, Target, and Amazon are some of the major retailers offering so-called returnless refunds.” It doesn’t always financially make sense for these large retailers to process returns, so this can save everyone time and money. “We’re not talking about free TVs and computers — the policy is applied in situations where the product is unlikely to be resold and where the cost of processing is equal to or greater than the cost of the product itself. It’s intended for lower-cost items, and reserved for customers with purchase history at a given retailer.”
Chewy is another retailer that has picked up this trend. “One woman in Philadelphia told the Journal in 2021 that she attempted to return a too-small cat harness to Chewy, which told her to donate the harness instead of sending it back — and replaced it with one in the correct size.”
By coming up with creative solutions like this, brands may not always be able to lower the number of returns they experience, but they can help increase the likelihood of customers returning to shop with them again. Shippo noted that “91% of consumers say that the overall ease of their returns experience impacts their willingness to shop with a retailer again, and existing customers spend 67% more than new customers.”