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Point of No Returns

1 Mins read

Last week, I hinted at a new survey that noted how important free returns are to consumers. I wanted to share more with you.

The SAP Emarsys Customer Engagement report released a few weeks ago at the National Retail Federation’s “Big Show” revealed that 72% of shoppers are more loyal to retailers that offer free returns, and 49% are less loyal to retailers that charge for returns.

Even more consumers—88%—have stopped doing business with retail businesses that introduced a paid returns policy, and 54% actually actively avoid stores or websites that charge to return items.

This attitude is especially important because more and more retailers today charge for returns, while more consumers—84% in the last 12 months—have returned products they bought.

The concern retailers have is real—23% of consumers, according to the report, have “admitted to ‘wardrobing’—when consumers buy items with the sole intention of returning them.” Not all wardrobing is nefarious. Many shoppers buy the same product in multiple sizes (particularly online) when unsure if the products will fit. (I once ordered six pairs of shoes when I intended to buy one pair.)

Sara Richter, CMO at SAP Emarsys, says, “With brands losing money from returns, it is understandable that retailers have added returns fees, but it is imperative retailers don’t damage their customer experience in the process. We need to fight the root cause of the problem…For me, that’s where personalization comes in.”

Richter added that returns drop “When retailers offer more targeted products based on customer data, such as returns behavior and wish lists.” And 77% of consumers prefer to shop with businesses that make personalized offers.

Consumers also say they’d return less if retailers:

  • Offered a more personalized product selection (26%)
  • Provided more personalized marketing materials (24%)
  • Made more personalized recommendations and deals that make the online experience more like shopping in a store (41%)

SAP Emarsys notes that returns are just one part of the loyalty mix. To learn more about what currently drives customer loyalty, check out the latest SAP Emarsys Customer Loyalty Index.

Return stock image by Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

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