We recently surveyed over 300 consumers who regularly shop online. Our most surprising finding was that almost 90% of customers have kept a product they actually wanted to return. In this post, we’ll explain why this is problematic for your brand and what you can do to address the problem.
We are going to break each of these down in more detail, except for "couldn't be bothered." If the other areas are solved you should have fewer people feeling indifferent towards finding the perfect product.
Unreturned products are bad for your brand
Your first thought might be: what’s wrong with customers keeping a product they don’t want? That’s better than having them return it, right?
Try to imagine the situation from the perspective of a customer. Let’s say a shopper takes a chance on your brand and purchases a product. But for whatever reason, they don’t like it - maybe it didn’t quite fit the way they wanted it to, or the color wasn’t what they had in mind.
When they go to start the exchange process, they roll their eyes and throw up their hands. For whatever reason, your return process is one they don’t want to bother with. So they just stash the unwanted product deep into their closet and don’t take it out again until their next trip to Goodwill.
You dont want customers to keep anything they don't hate. You want them to return anything they don't LOVE.
The returns process is one of the few places left to wow your customers. You don't want them to feel like they should keep anything that doesn't suck, you only want them to keep what is perfect for them.
If a customer is not in love with the product they have, they are very unlikely to make a repeat purchase or tell their friends about you. Ultimately, this leads to lower AOV and fewer opportunities for organic customer acquisition.
One brand we work with saw an increase of 131% in LTV between customer who have returned something and those who haven't.
We also found from brands that we work with that returns and LTV are correlated. One brand we work with saw an increase of 131% in LTV between customers who have interacted with the returns process and those who haven’t. The brand also saw a further increase of 9% when the customer had at least one exchange event.
As you can see, there’s no upside to having people keep a product they don’t want - for both your customers and your business. Our CEO does a really good job explaining this concept on our podcast.
Why your customers are keeping products they don’t want
So why aren’t customers returning products they don’t want? Our survey found that 27.8% of customers said they couldn’t be bothered to return. In other words, your returns experience wasn’t worth engaging with from the perspective of your customers. Let’s take a closer look at why that might be the case.
1. Shipping costs
27.8% of customers didn’t return their unwanted item because it would have cost more to return it than to keep it. This is a common mistake that brands make. While it may seem worth it to save on shipping costs, this is akin to stepping over a dollar to save a dime.
However, when you cover the cost of shipping (which we recommend), a few things happen. First, customers are much more likely to exchange their items - especially if you offer free shipping for exchanges. This means more retained revenue, continued customer relationships, and a better experience - not to mention that you’ll reap all the benefits of higher LTV and AOV that we discussed before.
74% of customers would be hesitant to shop from a brand that charges for return shipping.
Our survey also found that 74% of customers would be hesitant to shop from a brand that charges them for return shipping. So by offering free shipping on returns, you’re likely to see higher conversion rates as well.
2. A confusing return process
18.8% of customers didn’t return their unwanted products because the return process was too confusing. This is likely the side effect of a manual return experience, where the customer has to go back-and-forth with the customer support team and print out their own label. Instead of a manual return process, consider using an automated return portal instead. There are many benefits to this approach:
It creates a very intuitive and easy process
Customers have control over their own returns experience without relying on a support team
Repeat purchases become much more likely since 92% of consumers have stated that they’ll buy something again if returns are easy
This type of automated experience makes it much more likely that your customers will actually return a product they don’t want.
3. A slow turnaround time
Another side effect of a manual return process is that turnaround times tend to be extremely slow. That’s why 11.4% of customers on our survey said that they didn’t return their unwanted products because it would have taken too long.
We encourage brands to integrate with a returns app like Loop that can communicate with your warehouse and speed up the process. This will lead to happier customers who don’t have to wait a month for their new item, and it’ll result in more people opting for exchanges in the first place. Another bonus: this creates significantly less burden on your customer support teams.
4. No access to a printer
7.5% of customers couldn’t return the product they didn’t want because they didn’t have a printer. This is a huge signal that the print-your-own-label days are gone. We live in a digital world where customers don’t see a need to have printers at home and certainly aren’t going to get one just to make returns.
A solution to this is Loop’s Printerless Returns. This feature allows customers to start, complete, and execute the return completely from their phone. Instead of giving the customer a label to print, Loop creates a QR code that the customer can simply present at a drop-off location. This means that printers will no longer be the obstacle between your customer and your return process.
The last thing you want is for your customers to keep a product they don’t actually want. Not only does this leave them with a bad impression of your brand, but it also reduces the potential for additional revenue in the future. Address the most common reasons why customers don’t want to engage in your return process, and you’ll be sure to experience better business outcomes. Need help creating an amazing return experience for your customers? Loop is here to help.