E-commerce is on track to break records for sales around the globe in the 2018 holiday shopping season. Following the 2017 holiday shopping season, retailers grew significantly, and today, e-commerce makes up 17 percent of all retail sales in the U.S. Unfortunately, e-commerce means a higher rate of returns, but giving customers the ability to return online purchases to brick-and-mortar locations through e-commerce in-store returns is the key to unlocking greater success in the omnichannel customer experience.
Why Are E-Commerce Returns Higher Than Brick-and-Mortar Sales?
E-commerce has always been susceptible to a higher returns rate. When customers cannot see, touch and feel a product with their hands and senses, they may not be happy with it upon arrival. That’s not the only reason customers choose to return online purchases. As explained by Commerce Hub, some of the reasons for higher returns for online purchases include:
- Inconsistencies with a product’s physical appearance and its online description.
- Errors in product accuracy, which may occur when the wrong item is shipped out of the facility.
- Products that are damaged during transportation.
- Differences with the fit and/or product quality.
- Unwanted items that are the result of gifts.
- Buyer’s remorse.
- Fraudulent returns.
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Customers Expect Multiple Return Options
According to Stacey Rudolph of Business2Community, up to 30 percent of all products ordered online are returned. This is in contrast to 8.8 or 9 percent of products purchased from brick-and-mortar stores. It would stand to reason that customers that purchase an item online should be happy with returning the purchase by mail, but that is not the case. While 79 percent of consumers want free return shipping, up to 62 percent of customers are more likely to shop online if they have the option to return a product in-store.
Meanwhile, 58 percent want a hassle-free “no questions asked” returns policy, and another 47 percent want an easy to print shipping label for returns. Ultimately, customers expect a flexible, speedy, tracked and automated processes for handling returns.
How Offering Returns in Stores for Online Purchases Benefits a Company
Offering e-commerce in-store returns for online purchases meets the flexibility, speed, tracking, and automated alert requirements for improving omnichannel experiences, as noted by Supply Chain 24/7. When customers return items in-store, the customer is in control of these factors. The responsibility of the company comes in when moving the product back to the distribution center or allocation to the brick-and-mortar store’s inventory. A study published in the Journal of Marketing showed that stores that offer free returns see customers spend up to 457% more than they did before initiating the return.
Expand Your Returns Management Strategy
The need to create the best omnichannel customer experience is immense. Supply chain managers need to find ways to reach online shoppers and create a personable, memorable experience. Offering a hassle-free and no cost returns experience, including providing free e-commerce in-store returns, is one of the best ways to make this possible. Veridian can help you achieve this goal.