UPS returns

Narvar, a retail solution platform, today released a study on e-commerce return experiences — which revealed a preference for convenience and a need for frictionless transactions.

The study was based on a poll of about 700 U.S. consumers who returned online purchases in the last 12 months to better understand collective attitudes toward returning online purchases.

In its report titled “Making Returns a Competitive Advantage,” researchers found that affluent shoppers and Millennials under the age of 30 place strong emphasis on the online return experience. High-income shoppers and more than half of Millennials said they prefer to return online purchases in-store for the convenience of immediate refunds and the opportunity to shop for additional products. Forty percent of shoppers surveyed said they would buy multiple items online with the intent to return “all but their favorite,” according to the report. This trend is called “bracketing” and is most common among Millennials, high-income and female shoppers.

Forty-seven percent of Millennials said that online returns are “a hassle” and 60 percent said they hold onto purchases they dislike to forgo inconvenient return processes, which was 18 percent higher than shoppers over the age of 30. High-income shoppers share similar attitudes and behaviors to returns, as they are 1.5 times more likely to return online purchases than the average shopper. Only 50 percent of shoppers surveyed said they check return policies before proceeding with an online purchase.

Are In-Store Customers at a Disadvantage When It Comes to Returns?

Are in-store customers at a disadvantage when it comes to returns? 

Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail industry analyst that collaborated with Narvar on the study, said, “Returns are the new normal. As the study shows, most shoppers are frequently returning online purchases, while remaining loyal to brands if they have a positive experience. Retailers who want to remain competitive will find ways to reduce friction in the returns process, whether that’s communicating more updates, providing more transparency, or offering free return shipping.”

Amit Sharma, the chief executive officer of Narvar, said, “An online return is a critical moment in the customer journey. Retailers have an opportunity to impress and delight customers, especially high-value segments like Millennials and affluent shoppers. These are digital natives who treat returns as a natural part of the buying process and have come to expect convenience and transparent communication.” He added, “If retailers can meet these high expectations, they can use returns to improve customer satisfaction, inspire loyalty and fuel new revenue streams.”

Narvar works with over 350 retail brands and its clients include Sephora, Neiman Marcus and Crate & Barrel.

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