SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Retailers can prevent a substantial number of online returns by providing more accurate fit & sizing information to support consumers, nearly 60% of whom continue to struggle to find the right items online without resorting to bracketing — the practice of buying multiple items to try at home. Giving customers more confidence in their purchases and a convenient returns experience will also increase customer loyalty and sales, according to new research from post-purchase pioneer Narvar. The 5th annual report, called "The State of Returns: Finding What Fits," surveyed 1,040 US adults who returned at least one online purchase in the last six months to provide guidance on how retailers can improve the customer experience (CX) while limiting the impact of returns on the bottom line.
Ecommerce is expected to hit a record $910 billion this holiday season, and analysts predict returns will break records, too. In 2020, shoppers returned $428 billion worth of purchases, which presents a huge opportunity for brands to improve the post-purchase experience and build loyalty with what is often the last touchpoint on the customer journey. Narvar found 52% of shoppers plan to shop more online than in stores this holiday season, with 37% starting early. Shoppers are willing to pay for premium delivery and returns options, especially those that offer predictable, convenient services. Bracketing remains high, however, with 58% of shoppers reporting the habit. With so much at stake, retailers must find the balance between consumer convenience and business realities.
The study reveals that the number one driver of ecommerce returns is fit, size or color — in other words, the product wasn't what the shopper expected — accounting for 42% of all returns. While consumers are starting to embrace technology that can help them better understand products, like augmented reality, 88% of shoppers are still much more reliant on traditional product information, mostly found on the product pages. Retailers can minimize returns and increase customer satisfaction by providing more accurate photos, sizing charts, customer reviews, and more varied shapes and sizes of models.
Consumers are happier with their returns experience across the board, but there is incentive for retailers to continue to focus on this opportunity. Narvar found that 77% of shoppers who had a positive return experience with a new retailer said they would shop with that brand again. By leveraging real-time data, personalizing the returns experience, and providing consumers a variety of convenient drop-off locations, retailers can capitalize on these findings within their loyalty programs, like returns leader Amazon which rewards Prime members with many of these benefits, leading to higher satisfaction and loyalty.
"The playbook for brands to turn returns from a cost center into an opportunity that drives loyalty and revenue is clear." said Amit Sharma, founder and CEO of Narvar. "Retailers must leverage actionable returns intelligence to provide shoppers with the accurate information they need up front, and provide convenient return options. Some retailers are already doing this and are growing faster with more loyal customers."
Additional findings from the study include:
Consumers under 30 plan to splurge more than everyone else this holiday.
- 30% say they will spend more on gifts vs 13% of those 30 and over
- Only 17% of those 30 and under said they would spend less overall this Holiday season
- The under-30s are also more likely to go to stores than other age groups, with 22% saying they expect to shop more in store than online
What prevents returns?
- 83% of shoppers said reviews from other customers
- 77% of shoppers said sizing charts or measurements
- 73% of shoppers said product photos and descriptions
- 66% of shoppers said seeing models of different shapes and sizes
Convenient alternate drop-off locations are increasingly becoming the preferred method of return.
- 42% said they wish they could return items at the nearest convenience or grocery store
- 41% of shoppers said it's easier to return in-store but only 9% made their last return that way
- 37% of shoppers returned their last item by mail
- 20% returned items to an alternative drop-off location (e.g. locker, pharmacy)
- 15% returned items to a different designated retailer (e.g. Amazon returns to Kohl's)
Narvar pioneered how brands engage with consumers beyond the "buy" button through branded order tracking, delivery notifications, returns and exchanges. Today, Narvar's comprehensive Post-Purchase Platform empowers 1100+ of the world's most-admired brands including Sephora, Patagonia, Levi's, Sonos, Warby Parker, Home Depot, LVMH, and L'Oréal to deliver transparency, build trust, and grow customer lifetime value. Recognized by Fast Company as one of the most innovative companies of 2021, Narvar simplifies the everyday lives of consumers. For more information visit narvar.com.