Win and retain customers with seamless returns

First published by blu, on 07 October 2020

Returns management

Numerous surveys have shown various consumer habits changing in the wake of COVID-19. For one, global online revenue for groceries grew dramatically during the pandemic as compared to pre-pandemic times, as consumers headed online to get essentials and groceries in order to abide by safe distancing measures. Similar consumption patterns have emerged in Southeast Asia, where 45% of consumers have increased their online grocery purchases1.

Another interesting figure highlighted that a good proportion of local consumers were open to purchasing goods from new and untested brands - 27% of Singaporean consumers have tried a different brand since COVID-19, compared to 23% in the US and 22% in China. On one hand, this indicates that consumers are not brand loyal, but on the other hand, this also represents an opportunity for businesses to convince new customers to come on board. 

Friction-free returns the way to go
Maintaining a generous returns policy while ensuring that it remains financially and operationally viable has always been a challenge for businesses, especially now that COVID-19 has exacerbated the need for contactless returns options. 

Apart from being cost-efficient to implement, the process of returning an order had to be seamless for customers in order for it to be a positive brand experience2. This sentiment is shared in a US-based market study that highlighted two significant consumer preferences3:

  • 40% of customers choose not to complete their purchases due to complicated returns processes
  • 72% of customers will choose to purchase again if the returns process is simple

Closer to home, studies about eCommerce deliveries amidst the pandemic have found that online shoppers in Singapore valued free returns more than the ability to specify delivery timeslots or delivery instructions4. When focusing on key expectations of consumers regarding returns, there were two important takeaways:

  • Cost (i.e. free) and ease of returns were the top two considerations
  • A designated drop-off location was preferred by more than half the respondents, compared to 38% for booking a courier and 39% for dropping off at the post office

The main conclusion here is that returns should not only be seen as a means to increase customer satisfaction; having a well thought-out returns strategy could be a significant differentiator that could win over new customers.

Perhaps the reason why only 27% of consumers in Singapore have tried different brands is because as savvy online shoppers, they are particular about the ease and cost of returning their purchases, which then affects the decision to try a new brand. In fact, UPS’ Pulse of the Online Shopper 2019 found that one-fifth of consumers in Asia-Pacific are dissatisfied with returns processes, the highest among all the regions worldwide. 

Ostensibly, this points to local returns policies that do not compare favourably with those offered by international brands, such as free returns, no questions asked returns, flexibility of returns, etc. Clearly, a good (i.e. simple and seamless) returns policy can actually differentiate your business from your competitors’, especially in this region. When coupled with recent trends where consumers have demonstrated an increased propensity to switch brands, having a good returns policy helps retain existing customers, and could even help win new customers over.

Our returns management solution can help you facilitate seamless and contactless returns drop-offs for your customers, which is vital in the current circumstances. With more than 100 locations islandwide, accessible day and night, customers can drop off their parcels whenever it is convenient for them to do so. Stay ahead of your competition with our winning returns solution as it simplifies the returns process for your customers while being a highly scalable and cost-effective one for your business.

 

1 Bain, How Covid-19 Is Changing Southeast Asia’s Consumers
2 Retail Leader, Overcoming the Pandemic Returns Challenge 
3 Inmar Intelligence, “... 40 percent have held back on purchasing online due to complicated returns processes...”
4 BluJay Solutions, “... having free returns and an easy process were the top two most important features across the region.”

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