It’s no secret that consumers have turned to online shopping during the COVID-19 crisis. And they now demand proactive communication about deliveries and refunds, according to State of Returns: New Expectations, a study by Narvar, a customer engagement platform.
That means they need effective triggered email systems.
The demand for real-time status updates is critical, given that longer delivery times will continue through the holiday season and beyond, the company says.
Of consumers who rated their last return as very easy, 43% received notices that their refund was processed, and 32% were sent status updates throughout the experience.
Indeed, 76% who were satisfied with their returns experience say they would shop with that retailer again.
Overall, 56% have tried a new retailer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to updates, shoppers now expect printer-less returns — 27% have used a mobile QR code instead of printing a return label when dropping off an item. And 28% demand this in 2020, versus 15% in 2019.
In fact, Narvar reports that printer-less returns have jumped by 60% over the last six months.
Meanwhile, 22% would pay up to $5 for scheduled pickup of returns from their homes. And 31% would pay that amount for same-day or scheduled delivery.
Consumers are putting stress on retail returns processes by bracketing — buying items in multiple sizes, colors and styles — and returning what doesn’t work. This, in effect, is turning bedrooms into fitting rooms, Narvar observes.
This year, 60% of shoppers are engaging in this practice at least part of the time. That’s a 50% increase in three years, and 29% more than 2019.
Why do they do it? For 41% of those who admit to bracketing more, it’s because they have gained or lost weight. Another 31% say they have not been able to try on items in-store, and 21% say they bracket because they are trying new retailers for the first time.
“Brand loyalty has been disrupted as consumers experiment with other retailers amid uncertain circumstances,” concludes Amit Sharma, founder, and CEO of Narvar.
Sharma adds that “now is the time for retailers to retain both new and repeat customers by providing a convenient experience that preserves predictability in these unsettled times, especially when it comes to delivery promise and returns.”