eCommerce has now been firmly established in Australia: four-in-five households shopped online in 2021, resulting in almost 20% of all retail sales happening virtually. However, the exponential growth seen in the eCommerce market has been met with a new set of behaviours and expectations from customers.

Customers can search and compare retailers and products easier now than ever before, giving them more choice and flexibility in their offerings. If they’re not happy with one retailer, it takes moments for them to switch. This is a huge issue for online retailers, who are facing an average cart abandonment rate of 70%.

One of the largest contributors to the cart abandonment rate is an unsatisfactory returns policy, with 21% of Australian shoppers now citing returns as the deciding factor when choosing a retailer to purchase from. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering international shoppers have been considering returns as a standard part of the online shopping journey for years

Unlike in traditional retail environments, online retail requires consumers to buy before they try. Particularly for fashion retailers, this has always created an immediate hurdle. Shoppers need to take a leap of faith, trusting that a retailer has accurately represented their products and sizes, and that the retailer will care enough about a customer after the sale to support them with any post-purchase issues. If consumers have a negative returns experience, 74% of them will refuse to shop with a retailer again.

With the above in mind, That’s So Fetch – an Australian online retailer specialising in women’s fashion since 2018 – recently began providing free and easy returns for its Australian customers. Originally offered as a three-month trial, its new returns process makes use of Doddle’s returns technology via Australia Post’s Collect & Return network. Both customers and That’s So Fetch have found immense value in their free and easy returns. Since implementing free returns, That’s So Fetch saw an increase in efficiency and greater customer satisfaction, resulting in a 10% increase to average order value.

The change to That’s So Fetch’s return policy didn’t just increase loyalty from its own customers, but also increased its competitive advantage, allowing it to attract and win more consumers who are looking for easy returns. If retailers want to retain customers, free and easy returns needs to be a part of the core offering.

Justin Dery is CEO of Asia Pacific at Doddle.