Retailers spend millions trying to capture the attention of holiday shoppers but are missing an opportunity to create loyalty when customers start their post-holiday returns journey. This may be in large part due to the fact that many brands choose to optimize for reverse logistics when planning their returns strategy, instead of taking a more customer-centric approach. UPS’ data projects its annual “National Returns Day” for Thursday, January 2, 2020, but in actuality, the customer return journey starts sooner. Returnly, the post-purchase payments company that enables frictionless returns, today released new holiday data which shows that the biggest day for customer returns for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands is December 26. For brands that want to create competitive advantage and win customers’ hearts, the distinction between these two dates is critical.
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“Our data shows that today’s shoppers are not returning on January 2nd, they are simply shipping back their unwanted gifts on that date. The moment of truth for returns is December 26, when shoppers start returns online,” said Eduardo Vilar, founder and CEO of Returnly. “This is when brands have the opportunity to get the right item in a shopper’s hands before they even drop off their unwanted packages in early January. Brands planning their return strategy around January 2nd have missed the mark to connect with customers in their moment of need.”
‘Tis the Season for Returns
People want their gifts and they want them now — quite literally putting the emphasis on direct in direct-to-consumer. Returnly data shows that the biggest day for online returns is December 26. This further showcases the fact that shoppers expect ease and speed during the biggest shopping event of the year. Additional data provides insights into online return behavior:
- Customers start their returns journey the day after Christmas, not on January 2nd: December 26th shows the largest amount of online returns started by shoppers in a single day, twice as many as historically on January 2nd.
- The online returns journey is mobile-first, but desktop remains king when returning expensive items: The majority of shoppers (56%) use a mobile device to start their returns online. However, when returning orders of $300 or more, shoppers take extra steps to make sure they will get refunded by brands, with 72% using desktop computers instead. This suggests that modern shoppers are wary of the mobile returns experience offered by brands when returning high-priced items.
- Slow refunds make online returns stressful: “Where is my refund?” is the number one customer support contact request after starting a return. Merchants don’t want to take any risks and need to make sure returned items are re-sellable before issuing refunds, ultimately making customers wait. Slow refunds and lack of visibility over refund status make the returns journey particularly stressful for customers that just want their money back.
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“Brands have an opportunity to create competitive advantage and build shopper loyalty by solving customer pain points at the point of return. That is, when customers start their return online,” Vilar continued. “Brands can meet their shoppers’ expectations by offering a customer-centric returns experience that enables shoppers to get the right items before returning the wrong ones.”
Methodology: Returnly analysis captures return behavioral data of a random sample of 4 million online consumers age 18+ across 6 ecommerce verticals: Apparel, Accessories, Footwear, Jewelry, Beauty and Electronics. For seasonal trends, data was taken from shoppers that made and returned at least one online purchase in the last 24 months.
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