A leading cross-border and UK returns specialist has today published its latest tranche of research which reveals a significant drop in the number of UK and European retailers offering customers free returns.
ReBOUND’s sixth report sees a steep decline in the number of retailers offering free returns in at least one international market, from 55% in Q1 to just 28% in the latest poll.
The series of benchmarks entitled ‘The Great Returns Race’ shows that most brands are still not being up-front about their returns policy with only 6% of retailers promoting their returns policy at all three key stages of purchase – product page, basket page and checkout page.
“This is one of the most insightful benchmarks that we’ve done to-date,” explained Charlotte Monk-Chipman, Head of Marketing at ReBOUND (pictured below). “We use the research as a way of stepping into the shoes of shoppers from all over the world to see how this first interaction with a return policy affects their return experience.”
The report measures the return policies of over 200 retailers using seven key metrics covering interactions with shoppers, which impact the pre-purchase and post-purchase journey. These measure various aspects of returns – from choice of returns options and timescales for refunds, to policy reminders and free returns.
One of the more noticeable trends to emerge was the large drop in free returns being offered in the UK, Ireland, Germany and the US – despite them potentially able to boost online purchase by a huge 357%, according to CNBC. This fluctuation is likely to have been influenced by the ever-challenging political and economic landscape, with some brands likely to only have temporarily removed them as a benefit for customers.
The benchmark also showed a 5% increase in brands offering customers different returns periods to account for varying transit times, and a 3% improvement in website accessibility, which considers the number of ‘moves’ it takes for a customer to access returns policies online.
“If brand loyalty is the dream, then an awesome customer returns experience can absolutely influence repeat purchase decisions. But many of the top brands are still missing a trick here. The return journey begins online, long before you buy something and try it on. That’s what our research is all about – transforming the way the ecommerce industry thinks about returns and getting retailers to re-examine their own focus on customer experience.”
“They (retailers) can now see exactly what they need to do to gain and retain a competitive edge. We’re pretty chuffed with the feedback and demand we see from retailers to continue this benchmark but we’ve decided to evolve the report and steer ‘The Great Returns Race’ down a different track. So this latest edition will actually be the last of its kind. Future reports will be more precisely segmented into specific product sectors for an even more comprehensive and tailored review,” she concluded.