Returns Management

Returns management optimization

As soaring gas prices translate into increased final mile costs, ecommerce retailers and brands are facing a ‘cost of operating’ crisis. Many are considering abandoning free returns as a way to eke out cost efficiencies. Zara recently announced an online return surcharge, although this was explained as a sustainability measure.

However, recent research from Metapack shows that free returns is still one of the most important factors for consumers when it comes to evaluating their online shopping experience. Our latest report, ‘Post purchase experience – the customer loyalty blindspot’, is based on data from 3,000 consumers in the UK, Germany and France.

The report reveals the dangers of disappointing shoppers at this crucial stage of the shopping journey, pointing towards the value of optimizing returns management before doing away with free returns.

Free returns – the most important factor for consumers post-purchase

Our post-purchase experience report examines this oft-overlooked stage of the shopping journey which includes everything that happens between clicking buy and receiving the order.

Survey participants were asked what makes for a great experience at this stage. The most important factor emerged as free returns, which was important for 93%, and very important for 60%, ranking higher than factors like delivery speed and ability to track. Free returns are especially important in France, where 95% say it is important and 63% say it is very important.

Returns also loom large as a factor than can make for a bad experience post-purchase. Nearly a quarter (23%) of shoppers who had a bad experience say it was because they had to pay for returns. German shoppers are most likely to attribute their bad experience to this factor, with 33% blaming having to pay for returns..

The risks of disappointing on post-purchase

In the social media age, everyone’s latest shopping experience is only one scroll away. This can have both good and bad consequences for retailers.

Following a negative post-purchase experience, 59.1% tell friends and family; 27.2% leave a review online; and 11.4% post about it on social media. The potential consequences to a brand’s reputation are huge.

Just think about this: 36.7% of shoppers would stop shopping with a retailer after a bad post-purchase experience, but 67.1% would be less likely to shop with a retailer after hearing someone they know had a bad experience with them.

This goes to show the multiplying factor of experience in today’s socially connected world.

Bring efficiency to returns management

Returns optimization can be a great way for retailers and brands to reduce the cost of the last mile, while maintaining free returns – a lever to customer satisfaction that is more important than ever.

Returns can easily blow out of control when retailers try to manage them manually in-house. Returns management software is a much smarter alternative to handle these tasks, automatically bundling returns and selecting the fastest and most cost-effective route.

Returns management software also has the advantage of providing a wealth of data transparency that can help retailers predict returns, and even plan for items to be sent on to the locations where they’re most likely to be sold.

Want to optimize your returns management? Discover Metapack’s solutions for returns.