As the holiday season concludes, retailers now must manage an influx of returns. This period is critical in setting the tone for the coming year: more than 63% of shoppers agree (and 35% of shoppers strongly agree) that if they have a negative return experience, they will not return to that retailer, according to research from Promocodes.com.
Strict return policies can inhibit many consumers from shopping at a specific retailer in the first place: 51% said they avoid shopping at retailers with strict return policies, and 29% strongly agreed with this statement.
Even if consumers choose a retailer with a tough return policy, they won’t spend much there. Respondents reporting that return policies affect their purchase amount spend, on average, no more than $43.12 at stores with unfavorable policies.
Consumers have distinct preferences for different return policies, particularly depending on whether the item is bought in-store or online. Both in-store (37.9%) and online (33.6%) shoppers consider a full refund to be the most important return policy retailers can implement. In-store shoppers also prefer options that:
- Do not require a receipt (20.9%);
- Have no time limit for returns (16.1%); and
- Do not require bringing original payment method (10.8%).
Online shoppers care about free returns (27.8%), as well as no time limits (12.1%) and an option to return the product in store (11%).
Four Steps To Returns Approval
The Promocodes.com report recommends retailers take four actions if they want to gain approval for their returns policies in 2018:
- Create a rewards program so that purchase history is included, and members can return products even if they don't have a paper receipt;
- Consider expanding the return time frame;
- Make it easier for customer to return an item, whether through free return shipping or providing the option to return any item purchased online in-store; and
- Do not saddle customers with store credit, even if the short-term impact if beneficial.
Promocodes.com, in partnership with Research Now, surveyed 1,000 U.S. shoppers to gather data for the report.