The CEO of a leading courier service believes bolstering the returns process is key for online retailers to boost sales, as well as acquire and retain customers this year and well into 2023. In fact, research shows that 92% of consumers are incentivised to purchase items from a retailer that offers an easy returns process.

Returns is one of the most challenging processes for retailers to master, however, when done well, it can be vastly beneficial to their bottom line, according to CouriersPlease CEO, Richard Thame.

“Returns should be a key area for retailers to bolster and to ensure it fulfils the new consumer need for convenience and ease when shopping online. Providing a returns process or platform that allows consumers to arrange returns in a simple, user-friendly way can save time and resources in the long-term. It can also help ease pressure on customer service staff by reducing returns-related enquiries,” he said.

“Consumers will ultimately be more inclined to make a purchase or multiple purchases when they know they can access a solution that offers flexibility, control and visibility over their returns. While the process itself should be simple and easy to access and use, retailers must also ensure their returns policy complies with Australian consumer law. Although there is no legal obligation to allow ‘change of mind’ returns, I recommend retailers consider such a policy to encourage sales and increase consumer trust.”

Thame recommends four ways retailers can streamline the returns process:

  1. Send orders in reusable packaging. Retailers can’t underestimate the hassle customers undergo when repackaging goods they are returningSatchels that can easily be opened and re-sealed in a way that maintains their integrity enables the parcels to be re-used and helps customers return items faster and in better condition. Reusable packaging is also a more sustainable approach to returns, helping retailers attract the emerging segment of environmentally conscious shoppers.
  2. Make return pages more visible and easily accessible. Customers expect the convenience of online shopping to be consistent across all aspects of the shopping journey. On many sites, however, the returns page is hidden in the fine print alongside terms and conditions and privacy policies. Then the returns process itself can be convoluted, with shoppers at some sites having to request a return authority to enable the goods to be returned. A convoluted returns process is a reason why some consumers avoid online shopping altogether.
  3. Partner with a carrier that offers at-home returns collection. More Australians are continuing to work remotely, at least on a part-time basis, enabling them to receive online orders easily at home, including during work hours. At-home returns collection services are a slowly emerging trend that retailers can take advantage of. CouriersPlease offers such a service through a dedicated self-service portal, accessible through their participating retailers’ websites, which allows shoppers to arrange for items to be collected directly from their doorstep in three simple steps.
  4. Partner with a carrier that offers convenient drop-off options, including after-hours locations. For shoppers who have returned to the workplace, part of the hassle of returning items is finding the time to drop off items at the post office during business hours. Some couriers, including CouriersPlease, offer a collection point network, whereby customers can take their returns to a retailer who is part of the network – such as a petrol station, convenience stores or pharmacy – many of which are open after hours.