E-Commerce Boom’s Rise In Returns Presents A Unique Opportunity For Marketers

E-Commerce Boom’s Rise In Returns Presents A Unique Opportunity For Marketers
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Australian e-commerce continues to boom amid COVID-19, with the latest figures showing online shopping for April shooting up 31 per cent year-on-year.

And in April alone, 5.2 million people made an online purchase, with online retail accounting for 11 per cent of total retail turnover.

Increased demand inherently means increased returns. Yet many Australian businesses still treat returns like a problem to manage, rather than the treasure trove of data and insights that it actually is, Rachel Caton (pictured), head of sales and marketing at delivery and returns company Doddle, told B&T.

“Data is at the heart of it,” said Caton. “If you think about e-commerce journey today, retailers – largely spurred by Amazon – have invested really heavily in making the front end experience seamless.

“Things like a one-click checkout and all of these components make it so easy for the consumer, so that they’re really incentivized to shop with them.”

The second half of the process, however, is where retailers are massively missing out, said Caton.

“When you look at the second half of the journey, if for whatever reason that product isn’t what you wanted, or isn’t what you expected, it’s a bit like going back in the dark ages to return it. 

“The number of retailers that make a consumer call a customer service centre in order to initiate that return or actually want you to print out a form and fill it out is totally incongruous to the slick digital experience you went through it to get the item.

“What that means, particularly when you think about those paper experiences, it means that the retailers are missing out on all that valuable data to help them understand why consumers are returning in the first place.”

Caton adds that it’s not just retailers missing out, but consumers are missing out, too.

“Both numbers and stats that we’ve got around making that experience better whow you’re going to increase the purchase frequency, which ultimately is going to drive a better business outcome and customer loyalty.

“Consumers are missing out because they’re having a pretty dodgy experience going through it, and I think some of that comes from a perhaps slightly misguided belief that if they make returns less convenient, that consumers will be less inclined to return.

“Yet when we surveyed consumers, 72 per cent will check the return policy and process before they commit to purchasing. So I think retailers sometimes don’t appreciate how many customers they’re missing out on because of how they’ve marketed returns to them.”

Doddle’s survey also revealed 41 per cent of consumers have said they will stop shopping with a retailer due to a poor online returns experience

“What we’re doing [at Doddle] is trying to help retailers by educating them around the value of digitising that journey – things like return portals where a customer is able to give you the exact reasons they’re returning a specific item.

“That data can then be crunched by marketers and you can then start to know things like: is there a problem with our product? Is there a problem with our marketing? You also know which customers have a higher lifetime value. Because we’ve traditionally only looked at what they’re buying, we’re not matching that against it in returning.

“Bringing all of that together, it gives retailers a much richer sense of who their customers are and how they’re performing.

“If you have this old fashioned way of trying to prevent customers from returning, they’re not going to keep shopping with you.”

Not only does digitising the returns experience offer plenty of marketing opportunities, but it can also boost brand reputation, said Caton.

“Both numbers and stats that we’ve got around making that experience better whow you’re going to increase the purchase frequency, which ultimately is going to drive a better business outcome and customer loyalty.

“If it’s so easy to leave the retailer because you’ve had a bad experience, a good experience makes you more inclined to go back to them because you trust the experience you’re going to get and you trust how they are going to treat you as a customer.”

And, with COVID changing the way consumers are shopping, marketers need to look at a variety of delivery options to support consumers, whichever way they choose to shop.

“COVID has completely changed how consumers are shopping. Some have just shopped online for the first time, while others are becoming more astute to the experiences they expect.

“Up until quite recently, most people have been home all the time, so home delivery has been a more convenient proposition. But that’s come with its problems in that the network has been stretched to capacity and overcapacity.

“It’s created delays, which then hinders that experience. So services like click and collect or pick up, or Australia Posts collect and return network – all of these services which consolidate deliveries and enable more deliveries to be made quicker and more cost-effectively.

“This not only supports deliveries but is also a great end to a buying experience rather than a frustrating one because you’ve received a ‘sorry we’ve missed you card’.”

 

 

 

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