Pre- and Post-Sale Support Could Curb CE Returns

Iphone-SmashedAround 18 million consumers returned a consumer electronics product last year, although it seems many of those returns could have been prevented with better in-store education or after-purchase support, according to the NPD Group. 

Among the reasons for consumers returning a device, more than half (57%) said they were returning the device because it was defective. However, that reason may be a blanket catch-all excuse for consumers not knowing enough about a device and its operations once they leave a store. 

“I do not believe 57% of electronics purchases that go back are [truly] defective. I think there are a lot of reasons backed into that ‘defective’ reason people give,” Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis for NPD, tells Marketing Daily. “What we’re really talking about is setting expectations about how products are supposed to function and how to use those core functions.”



Indeed, of the top three things that consumers said could have been done to prevent the return, two of them were to offer better after-purchase support and/or more explanation from an in-store salesperson at the time of purchase, according to the study. (The other measure was to offer a service plan or warranty.)

Considering that, retailers selling consumer electronics devices could make a simple fix to cut down on the number of returns and thereby increase their profits, Arnold says. He noted that NPD’s previous report on tech support services showed a majority of consumers were using tech support services for how-to and troubleshooting issues, rather than for product repair.

“[Best Buy’s] Geek Squad could morph into sales associates who are able to give advice on how products are supposed to work so that on the back end, the returns aren’t as high as they were,” he says. 

Among the products being returned, smartphones topped the list, with a return and exchange rate of 10%, while flat-panel televisions were among the lowest at 4%. More than half of those exchanges were made for the same brand or model (60% for smartphones; 52% for flat-panel TV’s).

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