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BizReport : Ecommerce : March 14, 2007

Online shoppers dissatisfied with return processes

While online shopping is convenient for consumers, online product return policies are still not meeting shopper’s expectations.

by Helen Leggatt

When Pricerunner surveyed 400 shoppers, who had been actively purchasing online for between one and five years, they found that nearly 40 percent were dissatisfied with product return processes. Results also found that those who had shopped online for the longest were also least likely to return items, indicating that either experienced shoppers purchase more accurately or that previous experiences of returning items was just too much bother.

Over half of the respondents, 51.1 percent, had never returned an item they had purchased online but nearly 30 percent had returned items on more than one occasion.

The main reasons for returning goods were damage, incorrect item or an unwanted gift. Clothing, including shoes, was most likely to be returned due to incorrect fit, color or style. Barriers to returning goods included postage costs where pre-paid options were not offered and the hassle of re-packaging and despatching.

Managing return policies is as important as the fulfillment process itself, but is an often overlooked aspect of the customer experience. Enabling customers to easily return or exchange items, without additional cost or inconvenience, goes some way to developing loyalty and repeat business.

"While our customer service team is equipped with extensive product and sizing information that reduces the likelihood of returns and exchanges, it's inevitable some customers will change their mind about orders in hindsight,” said Dan Gerler, CEO of the U.S.’s first national online shoe retailer. “We accommodate this reality by offering a simple, unconditional 90-day return policy and year-round free exchanges. These courtesies lower the purchase barrier for first-time shoppers and build long-term loyalty with repeat customers."

Tags: online shopping, Pricerunner, return policy

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