The online retailing world as we know it is coming to an end. The age of eCommerce returns is dawning. It’s time for your company to evolve or get left behind.
Shopping habits have changed, are changing and will continue to change. There’s no questioning it, the rise of the online shop is perpetual. Welcome to the digital revolution.
Picture this… Earth is plagued by a pandemic of abandoned shopping carts, unwanted packages and unsatisfied customers. Multi-channels are flooded, muddy and every mouse click brings another grey cloud. Consumers are cross with cross-border returns.
For too long now returns have taken a backseat in eCommerce growth strategies; viewed as the necessary evil to the virtuous checkout. However, as the online shopper becomes savvier and the global gateway opens, retailers are faced with increased complexities, costs and consumer expectations to contend with. Return rates differ “based on industry and location, but analysts say anywhere between 25% and 50% is commonplace” (Michael Miller, BBC News 28th Jan 2013). In hard numbers, “returned products cost global ecommerce retailers $200 billion in cash and lost profits in 2012.” (Clear Returns Whitepaper Series: Intelligently protecting profits, 2013). Retailers are aware of the problem, but returns challenges are often brushed under the carpet. Yet as outbound sales increase on a global scale, returns will mirror this growth and cause an “erosion of profits that retailers simply cannot afford to ignore” (Clear Returns Whitepaper, 2013). It’s time to get pro-active.
There is mounting evidence to support the notion that hassle-free returns policies actually encourage the consumer to checkout in the first place. The UPS/Comscore ‘Pulse Of The Online Shopper’ study 2013 revealed that 74% of purchase decisions are influenced by the returns policy of the online shop. The study also revealed that if a retailer has a hassle-free returns policy, 67% of consumers will “shop more with that retailer”. There are clear benefits to offering a no-quibble, flexible returns policy, but retailers need to strike a balance between excellent customer service and cost-effective logistics. In fact, many merchants opt to refund consumers and lose their product, rather than dealing with the time consuming and tedious process of recovering returned stock.
Enter ReBOUND, the unique returns service that offers relief from the Beelzebub of eCommerce. ReBOUND makes a process often tarred with a negative brush into a positive experience for retailers and consumers globally. “With a global network of returns processing locations, ReBOUND is designed to underpin and support retailers’ cross-border expansion” (Saul Wordsworth, Postal Technology International, March 2014). Unlike most reverse logistics solutions, ReBOUND has been specifically designed for eCommerce, so multi-channel is at the heart of the process. Consumers are given a choice of return method to suit different lifestyles and cultures such as postal, courier, drop-off points or parcel lockers. Plus, as it’s a global solution, the choice of carriers has been carefully selected to reflect the consumer expectations of the first mile country, so the service is familiar and well suited to the consumers’ habits.
Finally retailers will have end-to-end visibility of returns. Starting with a web-based, self-service portal consumers will register a return before sending, resulting no more unexpected surprises. ReBOUND makes the returns process simple, transparent and cost-effective. “When stock is returned, it can lose between 5-10% of its value.” (IMRG Clear Returns Quarterly Fashion Returns Review Introductory Fashion Retail Returns Report February 2014). With ReBOUND, fast moving products with high demand can be fast-tracked between our network of global return hubs to be re-sold, to avoid inventory being listed as ‘out of stock’. ReBOUND also recovers value from returned stock by re-selling product on your behalf. The sales team will research the most profitable marketplaces to list your products, based around a gain share model.
The returns problem is frequently overlooked and overshadowed by the focus on driving outbound sales, but in the eCommerce industry, the two are inextricably linked. Even now, from 217 top retailers studied in the Micros Online Returns and Refunds Report 2014, staggeringly only "One retailer offered a choice of four methods[...] while 36% insisted on return by post only." The opportunity to stand out from the competition is clear. “By focusing on returns, retailers can improve their bottom lines” (Sarah Clelland, Micros), increase visibility of the returns journey, improve customer service and offer greater consumer choice. So whether your returns challenge is domestic or global, can you afford to continue ignoring returns?
Writer Alex Broom-Roden
Edited by Monk Chipman