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Improve Online Returns: Customers Will Thank You

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Brooke Lynch


Online shopping has defined the 2020 holiday season. For customers avoiding crowds, it’s a perfect solution to the hustle and bustle of retail stores. Cyber Monday, the largest online shopping day of the year, brought in $10.84 billion in sales, making it the highest in US history. With the holidays arriving and COVID-19 concerns and restrictions persisting, we will most certainly see a continued rise in online shopping trends. 

But what happens when regulations begin to lift and customers feel comfortable heading back to their favorite stores? Some customers will certainly continue making the majority of their purchases online, but individuals who made the switch to online shopping out of necessity may return to their pre-pandemic habits.

If brands want to sustain increases in online shopping post-pandemic they need to address some lingering pain points. When looking at the biggest challenges customers are facing, returns come to the forefront. Ordering items online can be tricky; the excitement of opening a package fades when you realize the jeans are too tight or the color is just a little off. The shift to online shopping has left customers unable to try on their purchases, trusting impersonal size guides and inaccurate product descriptions. 

With the exponential rise in eCommerce, consumer returns are at an all-time high. To retain the influx of these new online shoppers, brands must look to alleviate the burden of online returns.


Reduce the Hassle

Customers may turn to online shopping for convenience factors, but once they have a return it can feel like they’re on their own. Not only do customers have to repackage the item, print out shipping labels, and find an inconvenient drop-off location, they’re also faced with the disappointment of their imperfect purchase. Poor return processes replace the joy of online shopping with the agony of logistical headaches.

With all of the hassle involved, returns have become increasingly important in customers’ purchasing decisions. According to a new survey by YouGov., 87% of respondents believe that the return experience plays a significant role in their opinion of a retailer. For shoppers over 55, that statistic jumps to 93%. They believe there is room for improvement and retailers should be doing more for their experience. 

Giving customers easy access to returns, an appropriate time window to complete, and a full refund can go a long way in the eye of the customer. Online retailers like Zappos, which offers free shipping and returns for a year, have attracted a loyal following because of their generous return policies.

Including add-on services can also be effective. Along with typical return and replacement options, Patagonia offers to repair customers’ clothing. Customers still incur fees associated with the repair, but offering this assistance exemplifies an extra step in excellent customer service.


Give Customers a Perfect Fit

Some returns are necessary, such as when the item isn’t as described or the customer changes their mind after purchases. Others are totally avoidable, like accidentally ordering the wrong size or fit. With returns increasing more significantly in apparel categories, we need to identify new solutions to better serve online customers. 

A new survey from Yopto found that 65% of customers listed fit issues as the primary reason for their return. If you can better match a customer to their correct size, you can avoid a return altogether. Avoiding gratuitous returns leaves your customers more satisfied and reduces company costs associated with returns.

New technologies like True Fit, a platform that analyzes data from your previous clothing purchases to match your size at different retailers, or AI like Neatsy, an app capturing 3D scans to compare shoe size, can give a more personalized shopping experience deterring returns. 

Sizing technology gives customers the confidence to continue purchasing from your brand. When customers trust they’re getting not only a high-quality product but a perfect fit, they’re more likely to repurchase your products. 

With the continued expansion of eCommerce, considering new ways to exceed customer expectations is critical. Facilitating seamless returns can convince customers of the accessibility online shopping offers.