How to use item returns to build customer loyalty

The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in France in March 2020 led to a significant increase in online purchases. Although e-commerce numbers have been steadily increasing for several years, the total containment of the population and the closure of physical stores have left consumers with no choice but to purchase online.

According to Fevad, Internet sales amounted to 112 billion euros in 2020, an increase of 8.5 percent compared to 2019. The dynamic was consolidated in 2021, with consumption reaching 129 billion euros, an increase of 15.1 percent compared to 2020. It is expected that a year will follow 2022 This upward trend.

Unlike in stores where it is possible (and even recommended) to make fittings before any purchase of clothes and certain products, online purchases involve some risks: sizes that are too small or too large, incompatible materials, etc. These different cases, There is only one solution if the consumer does not want to keep the item: return.

Within the European Union, returns are the consumer’s right. Within 14 days, it is possible, for whatever reason and without the need to justify it, to return a product purchased online or remotely. According to Statista, 45 percent of online shoppers returned at least one item in 2020 (a rate that rises to 53 percent in neighboring Germany and 52 percent in the Netherlands). In other words, this is an important aspect to consider in the customer journey. Of the 1,000 French people surveyed by ParcelLab in 2021, 49 percent said a simplified return policy is an important criterion when making an online purchase.

“From a retailer’s perspective, returns have hitherto been seen as a disadvantage and sometimes a threat. Sometimes seen as a failed purchase, returns have resulted in incredible costs, be it transportation, processing, sorting, refurbishing and finding new life for the item. That’s why the decision to trash items appears to be the most economical. Ronit Meyer, co-founder of SaaS technology company Otailo, which offers sustainable alternatives to make returns easier, tells FashionUnited. The easiest and fastest.The company offers circular avenues, in partnership with physical stores to resell, refurb, and recycle items.

“Once a buyer has made the decision to return an item, they basically want to find the easiest and fastest way to get an exchange or refund. The drawback is that the classic returns process is very long, and can take up to two weeks! If there are any problems along the way, Buyers end up in endless emails and calls with customer service. It can be very frustrating,” the entrepreneur explains. And 43 percent would abandon a purchase if return terms weren’t clear enough and helpful, according to a study published by Journal du Net.

Aegin Kulai / Fashion United

Opportunity returns for brands

For Otailo, returns, if well organized, are an opportunity to build loyalty and create a close relationship with customers, they should not be seen as threats: “Processing returns – as complex as it may be for a retailer – ensures consumer loyalty who will inevitably want to do more. of purchases on the platform,” he analyzed.

“The task is to find the next most feasible and economical next life for each return. This can go through an authorized dealer, who then offers a price as close as possible to the original. This solution is particularly in demand by eco-friendly fashion brands that want to manage returns. sustainable and also actively looking to reduce carbon emissions.In this approach, physical stores are a valuable ally.People who return their goods generally prefer to do so in store.This is a well-known standard in the retail industry commonly referred to as BORIS,purchased online in the store Physical partners who deal directly with the brand and who are pre-authorized to process returns offer a more cost-effective and sustainable way to process returns,” notes Ronit Meyer.

According to Otaylo, this solution also increases the number of store visitors. The advantage for the buyer is to have the possibility of payment on the same day, to exchange with a person and not a chatbot or messenger and to avoid a long journey.

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