SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 14, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- When returning an online purchase, consumers expect proactive communication and transparent policies up front, according to a report published today by Narvar, the post-purchase experience leader. The report, "The State of Returns: What Today's Shoppers Expect," analyzes responses from nearly 1,300 U.S. online shoppers.
Online returns are on the rise as consumers purchase more online. U.S. online sales are projected to reach $525 billion in 2018 and ecommerce returns have nearly doubled over the past five years. Shoppers' expectations for an effortless experience have skyrocketed, and every brand touchpoint has become a critical moment for retailers to drive loyalty.
The Narvar study found that 96 percent of consumers would shop with a retailer again based on an easy returns experience. In contrast, a restrictive or complicated returns policy can prevent shoppers from making a purchase in the first place. The study found more than two-thirds of shoppers are deterred by having to pay for return shipping or restocking fees, and 17 percent said they would not make a purchase at all without the option to return to a store.
In addition to a streamlined process, shoppers demand more proactive communication about their returns. The study found that half of shoppers want notifications about the status of their return package, and 59 percent want notifications about the status of their refund. For retailers that clearly communicate the status of returns and refunds, shoppers are even willing to endure some inconveniences in the process. Seventy five percent of Amazon shoppers considered their most recent return easy even though 66 percent had to print a return label and 35 percent needed to contact the retailer for return authorization, compared to 33 percent and 27 percent of other shoppers, respectively.
"More and more, consumers are demanding to be kept in the loop throughout their shopping journey, which includes returns. Shoppers are even willing to put in a little more effort in exchange for clear and proactive updates," said Amit Sharma, founder and CEO, Narvar. "Retailers will need to treat returns as a critical moment of opportunity in the customer experience."
Key findings from the report include:
Easy returns drive loyalty.
Consumers will shop again with brands that offer a positive returns experience. A restrictive returns policy can result in a lost sale, though tolerance for fees has increased since last year.
- Seventy percent of consumers said their most recent returns experience was easy and 96 percent would shop again with a retailer based on a good returns experience.
- Sixty nine percent say they won't buy from a retailer if they have to pay for return shipping, down from 74 percent in 2017.
- Sixty seven percent say they won't buy from a retailer if they have to pay restocking fees, down from 84 percent in 2017.
Amazon shoppers jump through more hoops but are happier with the experience.
Because Amazon clearly communicates the status of returns and refunds, shoppers will endure some inconvenience in the process.
- Seventy-five percent of Amazon shoppers considered their return easy, compared to 65 percent of other shoppers.
- Sixty-six percent of Amazon shoppers had to print a return label, compared to 33 percent of other shoppers.
- Thirty-nine percent of Amazon shoppers received a confirmation when their refund was processed, compared to 21 percent of other shoppers.
Returns can induce anxiety and frustration.
Retailers can ease shopper concerns with a transparent returns process and clear communication.
- Thirty-one percent of shoppers have kept unwanted items to avoid the hassle of returning them, down from 53 percent in 2017.
- Twenty-eight percent worry their return will be lost in the mail.
Consumers want the option to buy online and return in-store.
The top reasons for preferring in-store returns were "immediate credit" and "not having to worry about a lost package."
- Sixty-three percent of shoppers mailed their most recent return, despite 40 percent saying it's easier to return items to a store.
- Seventeen percent won't buy an item without the option to return in-store.
"Bracketing" is common among consumers, especially luxury shoppers.
Consumers are continuing to "bracket"—buying multiple versions of an item with the intention to return some.
- Forty-one percent of shoppers said they bracket at least some of their online purchases, consistent with data from 2017.
- Fifty-one percent of luxury shoppers bracket versus 34 percent of non-luxury shoppers.
The complete report detailing the findings of the study is available online at Narvar.com.
Narvar helps retailers inspire loyalty beyond reason. As an enterprise-grade customer engagement platform serving 500+ retailers like Sephora, Patagonia, Home Depot, Gap, and Bose, Narvar enables seamless post-purchase engagement that retain, engage, and delight customers — from cart to doorstep, and beyond. With effortless order tracking, proactive communications, and seamless returns, Narvar applies machine learning across billions of interactions to simplify the everyday lives of consumers.
For more information, visit narvar.com.
Contact: Riley Gilleland, narvarUSPR@bateman-group.com