Retailers fail to build customer experience into online returns

The retail market is failing to develop online returns services that incorporate customer experience.

Research by parcelLab also found that retailers risk losing future sales and shoppers’ loyalty due to communication blackholes and a lack of choice in the returns process.

Based on a survey of 150 of the UK’s leading retailers, the average number of options for returning products was only two.

Around 27 per cent of those retailers only gave one option for sending back an item.

54 per cent of retailers were still asking customers to return an item to store, despite coronavirus restrictions that have forced non-essential stores to close.

48 per cent of retailers did offer to accept returns via mail, while over a quarter (26 per cent) of retailers still expected customers to pay for their own returns.

81 per cent of UK retailers confirmed receipt of a returned item once it arrived back at their warehouse, but 59 per cent only communicated once with a customer during the entire returns processs.

Julian Krenge, co-founder and chief tech officer at parcelLab, said: “Retailers who don’t cater for the needs of customers in the returns process risk eroding customer loyalty and losing future sales, just at the time they need to be capitalising on the accelerated and sustained shift to e-commerce."

He added: “Lockdown hasn’t just brought new cohorts of shoppers online, but it’s also encouraged consumers to try out new brands online, so it really is a case of making sure first impressions count.

"Even if the product isn’t quite right for that particular order, delivering a seamless returns experience can go a long way to saving future sales – and key to that is ensuring that the customer has enough choice to make the return convenient and enough information that they feel supported and kept in the loop at each stage.”

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