Amazon is an ecommerce powerhouse, but contrary to what you might think, it’s not just because they offer the easiest experience for customers. In fact, returning products purchased on Amazon requires a lot of extra steps—for example, you have to contact the retailer for authorization and often get a hold of a different box or envelope in order to send items back.It actually seems like a hassle, doesn’t it?
You would think these return policies would turn frustrated buyers away, but in reality, the opposite is true. In Narvar’s recent consumer report, “Making Returns a Competitive Advantage”, we found that 75 percent of shoppers were satisfied with their returns experience at Amazon, and 91 percent would shop with them again. So what gives? Why are shoppers so happy with their experiences if they have to do all that extra work to make a return?
Being upfront and honest with your buyers can make all the difference when it comes to returns. 74 percent of Amazon shoppers we surveyed had to print a return label to make a return (vs. 41 percent who had to print the label with non-Amazon retailers), and 41% had to contact the retailer for return authorization (vs. 28 percent who had to contact non-Amazon retailers). But despite these time-consuming returns roadblocks, customers remain loyal because the retailer proactively communicates with them.
The key to Amazon’s customer retention is that they keep their buyers updated at every step of the way. 45 percent of Amazon shoppers were informed of when their refund would be processed, versus 25 percent of shoppers who purchased from other retail sites. And 34 percent of Amazon shoppers received updates about the status of their return, as opposed to the 15 percent of non-Amazon shoppers who were kept in the loop. The takeaway? Shoppers care more about being in the know than they do about being inconvenienced.
For online retailers who can offer both simplicity and transparency with returns, this presents a huge opportunity to win over—and keep—more customers.
It makes sense that when it comes to returns, you want your customer’s experience to be as easy and seamless as possible. And part of that—the oft-neglected part—is making sure they know what’s up at every stage of the journey.
What steps can retailers take to better communicate with buyers about their returns? Here are some tips to help you get a leg up on the competition:
By offering more transparency into your customer returns process across the board, you can set yourself up to deliver a more positive post-purchase experience, one that will please your customers beyond what can be achieved with ease and simplicity alone. When your customers can count on a seamless experience and feel like they can trust you to keep them updated at each step of the journey, they’ll have more incentive to come back and shop your brand time and time again.
Read more about what the current state of returns means for online retailers by downloading our latest ebook, “The Essential Guide to Retail Returns”.
Heather is Senior Content Marketing Manager at Narvar and has been working in the SF tech world for over 6 years. She has a bachelor's degree from CSU Long Beach and an MFA in writing from California College of the Arts.