The returns dilemma has become a growing issue within retail over recent years. Whether customers are making impulse purchases that they come to regret, or if an item doesn’t quite look or fit right once it has been bought, today’s expectant consumers will return or exchange a product if they are not 100% happy with their purchase, and they demand a seamless process at all times while doing so. The issue for many retailers is that they cannot provide it.
According to data from Statista’s Global Consumer Survey, 49% of consumers in the UK and US have returned a product they purchased online in the past year alone. The pandemic changed consumer expectations, retailers have had to adapt to customer needs and today’s shopper expects the very best at all touchpoints. However, returns in particular introduce a number of challenges for retailers. In fact, only 48% of returns are eligible for resale, and practices such as bracketing – where customers buy multiple sizes of an item to find the best fit and return the rest – are creating both environmental and financial issues for retailers. Due to these factors, retailers such as Zara, Abercrombie and Fitch, and JCPenny have started to issue charges for the return of online purchases, and online retailers such as Boohoo have followed suit.
Returns will never disappear from retail, but utilising omnichannel technology can have a direct impact on streamlining the process and mitigating the costs associated with them. The right retail technology allows retailers to provide consumers with a range of convenient options, while also improving reverse supply chain efficiency.
Mitigating Returns with Appropriate OMS
Consumers now expect seamless fluidity between their online and in-store experience, and this is something that retailers must cater to if they want to remain competitive. In today’s environment, in-store and online sales channels are equally important and customers have come to expect convenience at every step of their purchase.
Fostering an omnichannel solution with effective order management options can be a useful tool for retailers. The right order management system (OMS) enables retailers to connect their e-commerce store with their in-store stock, allowing them to fulfil orders from any location whilst also facilitating easy order modification to allow retailers to meet customer needs across a versatile base. Offering order modification to customers can not only help to cut down the rate of returns, but small additional features such as these will significantly improve the overall customer experience.
The customer journey should not come to an abrupt end once a purchase has been made, and order management solutions aid in cultivating the seamless experience that customers demand. The technology allows them to feel in control of their orders from beginning to end.
Returns are an inevitable part of retail, and retailers need to have effective practices in place to optimise their handling of them. Choosing the right OMS solution can provide retailers with complete visibility of items, regardless of location. OMS technology can quickly add these returned items into the reverse supply chain, offering an efficient way to ensure that products are relocated as soon as possible. This not only sends returned items to be resold in an efficient manner but because the process is streamlined – and fast – retailers can also resell them as close to their original price as possible.
Enhancing the Returns Experience with BORIS
Another significant advantage of effective OMS technology is that it can help retailers to provide a Buy Online Return In-Store (BORIS) fulfilment option for customers. BORIS enables consumers to complete their purchases online and save themselves the hassle of online returns by simply visiting a brick-and-mortar store to exchange or refund their items.
Utilising BORIS blurs the lines that were once prevalent between the online and in-store experience, making the process of returns and exchanges as simple and straightforward for customers as possible.
Allowing customers to return their online purchases in-store creates value. Giving customers an enhanced number of options to choose how they complete their returns builds loyalty and drives retention. Furthermore, with each returned item, retailers have the opportunity to continue the customer journey in person, offering suggested alternatives or personalised discounts based on the purchase history of customers, creating a better, more personal experience.
An Omnichannel Approach is a Must
As retailers across the globe look for ways to increase customer loyalty and drive revenue, an omnichannel approach is vital to providing seamless experiences that foster strong customer relationships. As the world continues to change so do customer demands and expectations, having a retail technology solution that allows retailers to be innovative and adapt to them is essential to long-term business success. Research shows that just a 5% increase in customer loyalty can lead to an increase of up to 95% in sales – and a streamlined returns process can play an important role in driving customer retention.
The offerings that come with an omnichannel solution – such as BORIS – benefit retailers on a multitude of levels – from improved personalisation to efficient operational processes that optimise profit while catering to customer needs – ultimately aiding in building customer loyalty and retention.
Returns have historically been seen as a significant issue for retailers. However, with the right solutions, returns can not only be mitigated, but retailers can leverage technology to improve both their internal returns process as well as the overall experience for consumers. Returned items can be re-sold at maximum value, and retailers can also take in-person returns as an opportunity to continue the customer journey.