Online retailers are quick to ship, but returns aren’t as fast
The worldwide web has changed how many companies do business, not the least of which is the retail sector. Now, it is seldom good enough to simply have a brick-and-mortar store – today's merchants need to also have a website shoppers can use to make purchases. If they are really progressive, they will even have a mobile site or app.
For the most part, the online shopping experience is a positive one, regardless of whether consumers go online or in store. People shopping online are enjoying a smooth purchasing process – products are being shipped promptly and arriving on time in good condition. It's the return procedure that is plaguing many online retailers, according to new data from Innotrac.
The fulfillment vendor places a number of orders with more than 120 different internet retailers and graded the shopping experience on a scale of 44 points. The company looked at key indicators, such as customer service availability, order confirmation communication, shipping options and the quality of their goods upon arrival. Big-name retailers, such as Target, Best Buy and Sears, were among some of the brands analyzed.
Innotrac's research found that 66 percent of orders placed arrived within three days, 22 percent were delivered in four and only 2 percent came after day seven, suggesting many retailers have a well-planned shipping solution in place.
However, when products were returned, merchants were not as quick to respond. While nearly one-fifth (19 percent) did issue refunds within five days of receiving the returned product, many took even longer. In fact, nearly the same number (16 percent) took 20 days or longer to issue a full refund.
"The fact that 16 percent of retailers take more than 20 days to issue a credit shows that there are still some issues and that that process is not as expedient as it should be," says Jon Eggleton, vice president of marketing and ecommerce for Innotrac.
Because January is typically a slow month for retailers, now is the perfect time to hash out a better return policy if business owners don't have one. While many merchants are focused on making the sale, it's equally important to have a process in place for handling returns if retailers want to ensure the customer comes back to make future purchases.
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