Dr Martens Needs to Give the Boot to Their Clumsy Online Return Policy

 In Ecommerce, Product Returns

Let me start off by saying that I am an avid, nearly lifelong fan of Doc Martens. Namely their classic boot cut. I currently have 10 of these awesome boots in my closet, and usually have a rotation of two or three new ones at any given time. Needless to say… I’m a loyal customer.

In a recent ecommerce shopping experience, I found myself browsing for a brand-new pair of Dr. Martens.

As a subscriber to their newsletter, I was informed that there was a flash sale. After clicking the internal link, I was navigated to their online store. There, I found an amazing pair of white 1460 smooth boots that were on sale for just $99 (the image shown below is of this same boot but after the sale had ended, which displays the normal price of $140). As you can see, it was a great deal for the price.

Ode’ to The Best Boot Ever

For more than 100 years (since 1901), Dr. Martens have been widely regarded as the working man’s boot of choice. The unique style and cut, and the patented air soles, have combined style and comfort into expressionism.

As such, the boot has also become symbolic with various cultural movements over the years. From punk rockers to bikers, activists, police and blue-collar workers, a Dr. Marten boot is recognizable from across a crowded room.

As far as the quality of workmanship is concerned, it’s unrivaled. I’ve had pairs that lasted me 12 years or more and simply were outgrown. You can easily take any pair to a boot repair store and have them re-soled. They make countless styles, cuts and color options, as well as different eye sizes to suit nearly any occasion you can think of.

One thing is unquestionable: There’s nothing quite like a pair of good Docs.

Since I was 12-years-old, when I got my first pair, this has been my footwear of choice.

The Good; The Bad; The Ugly

I’ve always purchased Docs at a local brick and mortar store, up until recently, when I started buying them on Amazon or from Zappos (two stores that have set the modern-day standard for truly hassle-free ecommerce product returns).

You can imagine my surprise when I found that I ordered the wrong size boot from Dr. Martens and had to make a return. ReadyCloud is the maker of the most powerful ecommerce returns software, ReadyReturns. This automated solution powers some of the largest footwear and ecommerce stores in the world today, making returns seamless, effortless and able to be processed in under a minute.

But, what I am about to reveal to you is the polar opposite. How can a bootmaker, whom I adore, and that has sold more than 80 million pairs, ever contend with today’s ecommerce juggernauts when their hassle-free returns policy is so clumsy that it actually makes returns a stressful hassle?

How Returns Work at Doc Martens

Following my purchase of those 1460s, I realized I had ordered the wrong size. After a customer service email or two went unreturned, a few days later, after my order had shipped, I was informed I’d have to return them because they didn’t get to the message soon enough.

OK… I get that. Things happen. People are busy. Not going to hold sluggish customer service against my favorite bootmaker. But where the real bustle came in was at the point of actually having to process a return from the Dr. Martens online store, as opposed to one via Amazon or Zappos (my traditional ecommerce purchase route for this footwear), or at a local brick and mortar store, where styles tend to be more limited.

So here is how returns work at the Dr. Martens online store, and how they could easily improve them.

Step 1: Find the Returns Page

When you advertise hassle-free returns, it shouldn’t be hard to find where to go on the ecommerce site to make the return. Since 65% of shoppers take the time to read a return policy before making a purchase, you want your easy returns policy to be EASY to find.

But at Dr. Martens, you have to do some scrolling and digging. Once you do find it, it’s buried in the footer of the home page under “Useful Info.”

Step 2: Figure Out What to Do

Stores like Amazon let you process a return in seconds which is why they are outselling other retailers at a two to one ratio. At Dr. Martens, several steps are required to process the return, consumers are forced to pay a return shipping fee, and you’ll even need to visit a third-party website to generate your return shipping label.

Step 3: Get Your RMA

After clicking on one of the several links provided on the previous page, you’ll be filling out a form to generate your RMA number. Make sure you hold onto this because you’ll need it once you navigate back to the previous page to find the link that takes you to the third-party page to get your shipping label. (Whew, that’s a lot of steps!)

Step 4: Generate Your Shipping Label

Once you have completed the above steps, you need to go back to the original returns page and click the link to generate your shipping label. This will redirect you to a third-party website, where you fill out yet another form, so you can print your label.

Step 5: Drive to a UPS Store

Finally, once you have done all of that, you’ll need to repackage the boots, get in your car, drive to a UPS store, wait in line and check the product in.

After all of this, you’ll wait at least two or three weeks to get a refund (I processed my return 45 days ago and there’s no refund in my checking account as of today).

Dr. Martens Needs to #BootBadReturns

This is not a “hassle-free” returns policy. This is a clumsy and cumbersome one that requires so many steps that most people will likely give up and just forget about the return.

But if Dr. Martens were to make this process easy with an automated solution like ReadyReturns, they’d stand to cut out third-party sellers like Amazon and Zappos and make more money.

Hey Dr. Martens… did you know that hassle-free returns with automated systems like ReadyReturns can improve online sales by as much as 357% over just 6 months?

Here’s how the return should have looked, as demonstrated with our product ReadyReturns in place.