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What’s New About E-Commerce Returns This Year
E-commerce returns are terrible for profit margins, conversion rates and are all around a pain. In 2020 alone, consumers returned products worth $428 billion, which is 10% of retail sales. This trend impacts all industries, with a quarter of all consumers returning 5-15% of all items they buy online.
Returns hurt online sellers and retailers, but shoppers expect to be able to return any items they purchase both online and in-store easily. This is why brands, sellers, and retailers that deal with returns the right way can give themselves a competitive advantage and avoid a higher than average return rate.
Quick E-Marketplace Return Strategy Tips
With the right selling and return strategy in place, you can prevent returns with accurate and thorough product descriptions, durable and easy-to-ship inventory items, secure packaging, and return reporting.
Feedvisor360 offers return insights and analytics to help identify if certain vendors or products are getting returned more often so you can make smarter buying and selling decisions.
But as much as you want to avoid returned items, returns are inevitable, and you must make the process as smooth as possible for shoppers. Because returning a product does not mean that a consumer will not make a second purchase in the future.
If you can perfect your return experience, a survey shows that 92% of consumers will come back to buy again. This can be as easy as making it clear how and when shoppers can make a return and keeping them updated on the status of their return throughout the process.
Further Reading: Managing Refunds, Returns, and Cancellations
What’s New in E-Marketplace Returns?
Unsurprisingly, the most popular time of the year for online shopping is the holiday season, and following the holidays is the peak time for returns, from December to February.
Read on for more updates on e-marketplace returns, including return rates, extended return periods, shipping return options, and fraudulent returns.
2021 E-Commerce Return Rates
According to Retail Dive, online retailers have a return rate of over 20%, while brick and mortar stores have a 9% return rate.
Why are more items getting returned from online purchases? Consumer preference-based returns are the biggest reason why consumers make returns. Examples of “preference-based returns” include size, fit, and style. Only 10% of returns are because the item is “not as described.”
To avoid preference-based returns, you need to make your product listings and product detail pages as thorough and clear as possible. For more information on creating the most optimal product detail pages, check out our University Learning Center.
Extended Holiday Return Period for Amazon & Walmart
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon extended their return policy in the U.S. and Canada from March 1, 2020, to May 31, 2020, and many other retailers like Target or Apple had similar extended return policies.
But this is not the only time that Amazon extends their typical return period. This year, Amazon has once again extended their holiday return period. For the 2021 holiday season, most of the items purchased between October 1 and December 31 can be returned until January 31, 2022.
Walmart has also extended their returns for the holidays, extending their 90-day return period to start on December 26th, 2021, for any customers that buy or receive from November 1, 2021, through December 25, 2021.
Both Walmart and Amazon have exceptions to their extended return period. If you are a 3rd party seller on Amazon, you know that 3P sellers can create their own return policy between 7-30 days. Some 3P sellers put this responsibility on their manufacturer directly.
Amazon Shipping Return Option Preferences
Research shows that shoppers are more likely to shop online if they can return their purchase to a physical store, and this is where Amazon’s return options stand out.
Amazon shoppers can return items by shipping the item back or bringing it to available brick and mortar stores like an Amazon Hub Counter, Amazon Locker, or your nearest Kohl’s store. The only items that are not eligible for an in-store return are huge items or those that don’t meet their “safe to ship standards.”
Both the Amazon and Kohl’s stores will process your return for free; no box or packaging supplies are required.
If you are not selling on Amazon, be sure you are transparent with your customers about their options for in-person returns this holiday season.
Fraudulent or Frequent Returns on the Rise
U.S. retailers lose more than $18 billion a year to return fraud. Establishing a refund threshold to separate types of returners and tracking them will best help you handle fraud returns.
Some retailers like Amazon and ASOS have recently updated their return policies to blacklist serial returners.
Fraud on Amazon
Shoppers that return a lot of products will have their accounts flagged, and they will not be able to make more returns for a certain period of time. Amazon shoppers will also be flagged if they ask for a return but do not return the item.
If a shopper reaches a “concessions limit” for a seller, the account will be marked as a “concession abuse,” and from that point on, no returns will be accepted on orders for that shopper.
This blog covered both preventative and reactive ways to lower return rates and manage the refunding and returning process for different e-marketplaces. These methods will allow you to continue to decrease your number of returns, saving you money and increasing customer satisfaction.
But returns aren’t the only consumer behavior you need to stay updated on. Learn more about consumer buying habits and behavior in The 2022 Amazon Consumer Behavior Report.