Ensuring many happy returns

24th Oct 2016

Around one in five retailers has created a system for stock it cannot resell, including partnering with another firm to resell items at a loss, or moving to a bigger warehouse to store excess stock, according to research from Barclaycard.

But almost four in 10 firms, rather than accepting high levels of returned stock, are now charging for returns in an attempt to discourage shoppers from sending back non-faulty items.

It is a policy that could backfire, according to the credit card company’s survey of more than 2,000 people – more than a third of consumers said charging for returns would put them off shopping somewhere. Meanwhile, almost half of those questioned also said they wanted refunds rather than credit notes and 40% said they'd prefer a longer window for returns.

These customer expectations of hassle-free returns mean the majority of companies still give refunds, according to the research. This policy reflects how getting your returns policy right is something of a balancing act. Although retailers don’t wish to be taken advantage of by shoppers, they know that a no-compromise stance could drive customers elsewhere.

The Institute of Customer Services’ latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index found that a key priority for organisations is to focus on their customers’ priorities – and that employees’ attitudes and competence are among the most important attributes of customer experience, particularly in the retail (non-food) sector because of the high proportion of ‘in person’ customer interactions.

If those interactions involve serving a customer who is returning products, then those employees need to be supported by a returns policy that enables them to handle the situation in a way that satisfies that customer.

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