North America is more than 9.5 million square miles of cities, farmland, suburbs, desert coastline, tundra and wilderness. Does your local returns strategy account for all the different online shoppers living in all these different communities? How you meet each of their personal preferences will make or break the customer returns experience.

With as many as one-third of all online purchases in North America are sent back and the average return process about twice as long as most shoppers want, e-tailers must diversify how they allow customers to return if they expect to retain business and prove value. Apart from standard e-commerce returns, what other options should e-tailers consider offering their online shoppers?

Return to brick-and-mortar stores
As popular as online shopping is, most retail is still conducted through physical stores. The United States alone has more than six times the per capita brick-and-mortar retail space than the United Kingdom. However, as businesses shift their focus from B&M locations to their virtual inventories, storefronts and malls across the continent are pulling double duty as return locations.

E-tailers who offer free in-store returns do themselves and their online customers many favors. First, research from Chain Store Age indicates as many as 7 in 10 shoppers prefer to return goods to their local B&M retailer as opposed to returning online. Providing that service simply aligns with customer preferences. Second, free B&M returns reduce logistics costs for the provider, which in turn minimizes spend necessary to keep online returns affordable for others.

Return via pickup location
In crowded urban areas, online shoppers may not have the resources to leave a return package safely for collection. Perhaps, for peace of mind, they would prefer to drop off their returns at a monitored and well-managed pickup location in their neighborhood.

By including these places among customer return options, e-tailers consolidate large volumes of refurbishable inventory in safe areas. Instead of navigating congested streets to collect returns one at a time, returns personnel only have to make a few stops at key pickup locations to reclaim the majority of their goods. Once again, this additional returns channel helps cut down on reverse logistics costs in the long run.

Return without regret
With diverse returns options come complexity. When e-tailers provide more ways to return to their online customers, they introduce a lot of risk into their operations as well. To manage your returns cost-efficiently, it is important to work with a logistics partner who can balance that variety of returns options to customers and simplify how retailers manage those channels intelligently.

Landmark Global offers different return solutions for e-tailers, From the inspection and quality assurance of all returned items, to the shipment of the goods: to the distribution center, the manufacturer or a facility for safe destruction. Landmark Global’s trade services team will even help retailers reclaim taxes and duties levied on cross-border shipments.

North American businesses looking to grow their online presences must master the art of the return. A logistics partner can help get them there, so long as the partner understands everything that a return entails in the landscape of modern e-commerce.

Sources:

http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/infopage/contnent.htm
http://www.kurtsalmon.com/global/Retail/vertical-insight/1487/2016-Omnichannel-Fulfillment%3A-A-Kurt-Salmon-Special-Report
https://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304773104579270260683155216
https://seekingalpha.com/article/3992081-americas-retail-footage-crisis
http://www.chainstoreage.com/article/survey-70-prefer-returnexchange-gifts-store-versus-online
https://www.eia.gov/consumption/commercial/reports/2012/buildstock/

 

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