Returns experience grows in significance for consumers

A Doddle survey shows that 59% of consumers find the convenience of returns to be more important to them since the COVID-19 outbreak

The return experience is playing a growing in respondents’ opinion of a retailer, with a higher share of consumers reporting that their view is shaped by the speed, convenience, cost and communication process when returning a product.

The survey, run by e-commerce solutions provider Doddle, found that 87% of the 1,400 US consumers questioned said that the returns’ experience is critical in how they view a brand, up from  84% in May 2019. This was particularly true of older shoppers, with 93% of consumers aged over 55 agreeing.

Over three quarter of the consumers also felt that retailers need to do more to improve their returns experience.

The research also demonstrated COVID-19’s continued impact, and how this has driven desire for shopping-related ease, clear communication and reduced costs. Fifty-nine percent of consumers said that convenience of e-commerce returns has become more important to them since the COVID-19 outbreak, and 85% said retailers should do more to make their returns experience better over the holiday season.

It is hard to mitigate the cost of returns as well, with 63% of respondents desiring free returns, and 51% looking for convenient locations to send returns (e.g. at a local store or post office).

The need for visibility and increased communication had also risen since the May survey, with 51% of consumers calling for package tracking, confirmation of receipt and refund details of high importance, in comparison to 41% earlier this year. Almost half of the consumers also wanted items delivered in packaging that could be re-used or re-sealed for returns, and 49% highlighted free exchanges.

"As the surge in online shopping continues, particularly with the potential of more lockdowns to come, the need for meeting consumers' e-commerce returns' desires only continues to grow as well," said Dan Nevin, chief revenue officer, global retail for Doddle. "The insight from this survey provides a good starting point for retailers to consider, but with returns' clear impact on customer satisfaction, it's critical for retailers to ensure they are able to digitally capture all of the necessary details with regards to customers' returns and use those to bolster overall shopping experiences."

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