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Top Reasons to Offer Hassle Free Online Returns At Your Store

Top Reasons to Offer Hassle Free Online Returns At Your Store

The numbers are in, and they say that difficult returns are officially out. Shoppers overwhelmingly want hassle-free online returns, and as the saying goes, the customer is always right. It may seem counterintuitive to e-tailers who are nervous that making returns easy will encourage them and will eat into profits. Studies, surveys and data, however, tell a different story. Easy returns benefit both seller and shopper alike.

Here are 15 reasons you want to offer hassle-free online returns at your store. Read on to be convinced.

80% of shoppers want a no-questions-asked return policy.

Modern day consumers are busy people. They likely have career, family and other obligations and don’t have time to fill out a lengthy form about why a return is being made. The lack of free time is why they’re shopping online in the first place. Instead of requiring multiple steps to send an order back to your warehouse, make the return as painless as possible and appease the 80% of shoppers who want a no-questions-asked return policy.

66% of Consumers read the returns policy.

The biggest downfall of online shopping is the inability to physically experience a product before buying it, which is why 66% of prospective customers will read a returns policy before committing to the purchase. Hiding the policy or making it difficult to find will only deter shoppers, whereas transparency will attract them if your policy is favorable.

Free returns can increase sales by 357%.

Over the course of four years, researchers tracked dozens of consumers and their buying habits at two leading online retailers. The e-tailer that implemented free return shipping saw the average spend per customer increase by $2,500—a 357% increase over the other store that only saw per-customer spend rise by $620. Another study had similar findings: Sales fell by 74-100% when shoppers had to start paying for return shipping. The increase in sales that free return shipping will bring will far outstrip the costs of offering it.

Hassle-free returns boost customer loyalty.

Once customers realize they can confidently make purchases from your online store and return items that don’t work out, they return in droves. Zappos is the perfect example. The shoe e-tailer offers automated hassle-free returns and sees a returns rate of 35%, but 75% of their customers are repeat buyers. Consumers want convenience, and in exchange, they’ll be loyal to your brand.

The Return Is Probably Your Fault.

65% of the time, a return is not the shopper’s fault but rather the retailers. It breaks down like this:

  • 23% of returns: wrong item was shipped
  • 22% of returns: the product appears differently online than in person
  • 20% of returns: delivery was damaged

55% of shoppers view difficult returns, restocking fees and return shipping fees as an “obstacle to online shopping in general.”

Research firm Forrester consistently reports on the way online retail is changing, so it was no surprise when their findings showed a dislike for difficult return policies. More than half of shoppers saw these egregious processes and fees as obstacles that deter them from shopping online.

Half of shoppers want easier online returns.

A recent ComScore survey found 50% of shoppers want easier online returns from the brands they’re shopping with, and only 42% of them are satisfied with how online returns are now. Even that 42% would not be able to complain if their returns experience went from good to great.

Your return policy influences 80% of your sales.

Now that you know how many shoppers are viewing your return policy, it should come as no surprise that the policy itself influences sales. UPS found 80% of ecommerce sales are influenced by the e-tailer’s return policy, so there is direct correlation between a favorable policy and increased sales.

Shoppers want easy access to return labels.

One of the biggest hassles of making an online return is dealing with the shipping label. Some stores provide labels online, but then they must be printed. Other stores only list an address on their website.

Let’s look at what consumers want:

  • 86% want the e-tailer to provide the return shipping label
  • 52% want the box to include the return shipping label
  • 51% simply will not buy from a store if the return shipping label doesn’t come with the box

Consumers look for hassle-free online returns.

Think tank Forrester Research polled consumers on whether “free return shipping and no restocking fees” was a must-have feature at the online stores they chose to shop with, and over 80% of them said yes. These things are clearly what shoppers are looking for, so it’s wise to accommodate them.

Most retailers charge a return shipping fee.

Offering hassle-free returns is one of the easiest ways to make your ecommerce store stand out. Only 11% of retailers offer free return shipping, so you can attract shoppers by being in that small percentage.

The biggest return days are on the horizon.

One of the more time-sensitive reasons to start offering hassle-free returns is this: The biggest return days are just a few months away. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the December holidays are the biggest drivers of ecommerce returns with UPS alone processing millions of packages just after Cyber Monday. Another 10+ million returns will be processed in the first week of January. It’s better to prepare now than suffer later.

64% of returns will result in reconversions.

In the UPS consumer report, “The Pulse of the Online Shopper,” the shipping giant revealed more than half of shoppers will buy something else when they go to make an online return. This means that 64% of the time, e-tailers instantly earn back some or all the money lost on the initial return. If you offer hassle-free online returns at your store, you can benefit from these reconversions as well.

Long-term profits increase by 25% or more.

It was noted earlier that your sales can spike as much as 357% when you start offering a free return shipping policy. Over the long term, this turns into a 25% or greater profits increase. How do we know this? Science Daily reported on a study that separated participants into groups where one group followed the Zappos method of hassle-free returns, and the other groups did not. The Zappos-like group grossed $1.8 million, beating the control groups that only grossed $1.2 million on average.

68% of shoppers viewed free return shipping as a positive shopping experience.

Findings from a thorough UPS survey reveal a majority of consumers equate free return shipping with an overall positive shopping experience. As an e-tailer, your business depends on the customer experience, so it is well worth the effort to improve that experience wherever possible.

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