Narvar, the technology company that until recently was only focused on the post-purchase experience for the customers of brands such as Dagne Dover, Prettylittlething, Rebecca Minkoff and others, released its annual returns report.
The “State of Online Returns” details responses from more than 3,500 online shoppers in five countries, finding that consumers are less than satisfied — with even Amazon falling short of consumer returns expectations. According to the report, shoppers find in-store returns convenient, but only 38 percent of U.S. consumers said it’s actually easier to return in-store, down 10 percent from 2017.
What do they want?
It’s in a retailer’s best interest to meet customer expectations and, according to the report, that means returns and exchanges that are “fast and easy.”
Earlier this month, Narvar expanded its platform’s focus to include the “prepurchase consideration” phase of a shopper’s journey, on top of their existing post-purchase data. The company has explored pilots with Nordstrom and Walgreens through its Narvar Concierge Network to facilitate easier package pick up and returns.
Narvar, along with players such as Newmine and Returnly, attempts to close the gap between returns experience and customer expectations.
Globally, only 60 percent of shoppers surveyed said they were satisfied with their most recent return, according to Narvar’s data. To affect change for the nearly $369 billion in returns that impact the U.S. retail industry, (as noted in a report by Appriss Retail), there’s more to the picture.
In the report, Narvar found a growing interest in sustainable impact, with nearly half of survey respondents (or 46 percent) opting to return in-store to “reduce the environmental cost of returned items.”
Even so, a portion of global consumers “shop exclusively with retailers who communicate good environmental practices.”
Sucharita Kodali, retail analyst at Forrester Research, added that consumers will “go the extra mile” for the sake of the environment.
“There are simple messaging initiatives that can help consumers make greener choices, including driving in-store returns and consolidating shipments,” Kodali said in a press statement. The result is long-term customer value.
Amazon Not All Flawless
As for how Amazon fares on the returns spectrum, Narvar’s results may point to a widening concern for how the company’s contractors can keep pace with the volume of orders placed with Amazon.
Maybe it’s the harmless splay of Amazon packages on a busy Manhattan street corner readying to be loaded onto a hand trolley, or perhaps the more severe unsupervised cart parked on a curb.
According to Narvar’s report, shoppers returning goods to Amazon reported more “marketplace” issues such as damaged items (21 percent) and misrepresented products (14 percent) compared to other retailers (16 percent and 12 percent, respectively).
Amazon shoppers experienced higher satisfaction rates with their returns experiences than non-Amazon returners, both within the U.S. (71 percent compared to 60 percent) and globally (61 percent compared to 58 percent).
Regardless, some Amazon shoppers still need to print a return label and self-package their item.
Amazon’s “returns playbook” is still vying to find the same speed, convenience and transparency it shows in the rest of its operations, but as Kodali said, “[Narvar’s] findings show Amazon has not yet mastered a frictionless returns experience,” adding that competing retailers will continue to differentiate themselves in other ways.
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