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Making returns easier

Returns are a real headache for almost all online retailers, with some analysts quoting a return rate of 30%, so why on earth would any businesses want to make returning goods easier?

Well the answer is simple; research we commissioned shows that 95% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they know they can return it easily.  In other words, an awkward returns policy equals lost sales.

Our research went on to examine which part of the returns process was most irritating for customers and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority, 56%, identified a trip to the post office. However a significant minority, 30%, said repacking goods was the most annoying part of the process, with men and younger adults particularly averse to doing battle with the sellotape.

While it’s tricky for internet retailers to control a customer’s experience at the post office, helping consumers to repackage goods can boost the customer experience as well as offering other business benefits:

  1. Make your packaging reusable: Adding a double glue strip to your mailing bag allows consumers to re-use the packaging to send their unwanted product back to you in the post. This improves the customer experience and is environmentally friendly.
  2. Reduce damage caused by inadequate packing: Make sure your packaging can withstand the weather and the rough and tumble of the sorting office. Damaged packaging can lead to damaged goods and poor impressions; almost 95% of consumers claim poor quality or damaged packaging negatively impacts on their perception of a business.
  3. Recycle your returned packaging: While cardboard is widely perceived as a recyclable commodity, other types of packaging, including polythene are also easily recycled. In the UK there is a shortage of good quality polythene scrap leading to an increase in the price per tonne, this means recycling makes economic sense as well as fulfilling CSR aims and reducing landfill tax

David Brimelow is Managing Director of packaging manufacturer Duo UK

Readers' comments (2)

  • Thierry BAYLE

    Thanks for the input.
    It is not only analysts that state that the return rate can be up to 30%.
    This is often not known to smaller E-Commerce businesses.
    Investing in tools and techniques (including the above) in order to reduce the return rate will go straight back to the bottom line and increase Brand value.

    Need to put it on @retailfashion. Use #helpretail


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  • Returns aren't really a headache as they are part and parcel of the online business model. We prefer the returns (even the odd dodgy ones ) to having excessive costs to trade in real-life stores and high retail business rates.
    The amount of dodgy returns and the fraud are tiny in costs compared to the losses we used to incur with the 'worn once' brigade + the local regular shoplifters.
    Our returns rate is about 15- 20% as our sizing is consisent so once a purchase is made the cusomer will know another style will fit the same.

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