Let’s Talk About Omnichannel Returns
The customer journey may always start with shopping, but it doesn’t necessarily end on a happily-ever-after note. Sometimes, the item just doesn’t meet expectations and the customer makes a return.
The return rate for the retail industry in the U.S. and Canada averages 8% of total sales, according to retail analytics firm The Retail Equation.
Returns are a “reverse logistics problem,” but also a fact of life for retailers, which cost time and money.
Because of that, it seems counter-intuitive to invest in improving the returns process — but it’s absolutely imperative. Having a good returns experience can help retain customers, and gaining a reputation for it can actually attract new shoppers.
It’s estimated that between 25 and 50% of online purchases are currently returned, so making the process simple and convenient is vital.
Retail flexibility for returns is a must in the omnichannel: after all, the customer can buy in any number of channels, so returns should have similar options as well.
In having omnichannel capabilities for customers to make returns, retailers can use the return as an opportunity to immediately offset any costs of returns. The retailer can use clienteling through whatever channel the return process is started; suggesting products in line with the general trends of their purchase history.
With a wealth of plugins available, Retailers can customize their omnichannel operations to offer return processes that are convenient for customers and work seamlessly with their retail and inventory management.
Order Management and the channels for returns
Once a return happens, being able to make that addition to inventory available soon after receipt increases the opportunity of achieving a full-price sale.
An order management system can provide instant visibility of returning goods, regardless of how they are being returned — to a store, through a courier service or directly to a warehouse.
In addition, having visibility of these items available allows the order management system to develop fulfillment decisions on how and where items should be sold to maximize profits.
A survey from Inmar found that most shoppers want to return in-store, largely due to the hassle of packing up a return.
Brick and mortars can benefit by enabling in-store returns of online purchases, as that drives store traffic and provides an opportunity to immediately recapture shoppers’ initial expenditures. Approximately 30% of Inmar survey participants said they “usually” or “always” stay in the store and shop with their refund money.
AppCard for Retail Pro provides a retailer with great tools for building personas for retailers various clients and personalize recommendations for them.
The future of returns and making them easy
Some e-commerce retailers such as Amazon make the return experience easy by requiring little to no packaging by the customer, allowing returns in different store locations, including return shipping labels in deliveries, as well as a QR code that can be used at a predetermined courier, which also increases efficiency for the retailer
Returns are an important element of a new online sales cycle: Increasingly, shoppers are employing a “buy and try” approach and they expect sellers to cooperate.
Research has found that much of the returns growth is due to shoppers purchasing more than one of the same or similar products with the intention of keeping one and returning the others.
Retailers must recognize the changing role of returns, understand that they will likely increase rather than decrease due to this new customer mindset, and optimize their processes to adapt and maximize customer satisfaction.