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Returns and exchanges
‘Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and ‘buy online, return in store (BORIS)’ are now part of the omnichannel and CX strategy roadmaps of every retailer.
However, truly customer-centric retailers are discovering that at the heart of rich customer experiences is the brand’s ability to cater to typical customer behaviors and meet their expectations. One hidden benefit of BOPIS orders is that they encourage ‘serendipity’ or the joy of discovering an interesting product or deal that customers never set out to buy. This could make them change their minds about purchases already made—they may want to either return or exchange the product.
Unified commerce makes returns management hassle-free and turns it into an opportunity to foster customer engagement, helping recover a lost sale or maximize basket value while earning customer loyalty.
Let’s explore how unified commerce helps drive a seamless product exchange across channels.
A simple and easy returns and exchange process goes a long way in securing goodwill and loyalty of customers.
While it demonstrates respect for the customer’s post-purchase decisions, seamless returns process offers several benefits to retailers and customers alike:
With the right technologies and best practices, returns can be a source of loyalty and growth.
Here are a few considerations for retailers to optimize returns and exchanges while ensuring superior omnichannel experience for customers.
1. Returns reconciliation
The impact of returns can be overwhelming and involves complexities in varying degrees—the inventory carries costs if the returned product makes its way again into the inventory ledger and occupies space at the store or distribution center; retailers need to evaluate whether the return implies a full or partial refund based on several factors (manufacturing defect; damaged in transit to the customer; incorrect size; or just a change of mind); retailers also need to check if the product was part of a bundled or a limited offer. In order to make these decisions, the business needs to have unified data to be able to process returns using the original purchase data to provide a seamless returns experience.
2. Streamline reverse logistics
Every returned product needs to be evaluated for the next-best action: should it be repaired, restocked, refurbished, or recycled? By investing in a reverse-logistics software, retailers can identify the path for returned products that will generate the highest cost recovery. Further, artificial intelligence can help analyze products, returns rules, and sales demand so that products in good condition can be put back on the shelves or on the storefront.
3. Payment methods for each return
While most customers may want to be refunded the same way they paid, store credits or gift cards can be a great way to ensure customers don’t spend their money elsewhere. The payment methods for each return scenario type should be configurable in the system.
4. Handling returns without receipts
While most businesses demand a receipt as part of their returns policy, consumer rights laws dictate otherwise. Further, accepting returns without receipts is a key driver of customer experience, improving loyalty. In case of a genuine return, businesses can agree to a credit card slip or statement. The system should be configured to track the barcode or serial number of the product, or the customer’s email and phone number to accept returns.
5. Handling returns abuse
With homes turning into lounges following the pandemic, ‘bracketing’ (ordering several sizes or colors and purchasing just one) and ‘wardrobing’ (returning a product after a single use) by customers have become a nemesis for retailers, especially those with a lax returns policy. Businesses need to train their frontlines to be able to spot returns abuse and avoid conflicts.