Return Policies Have a Major Impact on Shopping Decisions
When it comes to in-store or online shopping, comparing prices is just the first decision for consumers. According to new research from InComm, 96% of consumers consider return policies for their shopping decisions, and 55% say returns have a “big influence” on where they shop.
What makes for a good return policy? Over half (57%) of respondents said they prefer an easy, fast return policy. This may include an express return lane like Walmart offers, or may simply refer to a hassle-free return experience. For instance, Lowe’s customers can scan all return receipts at once and then scan each of the return products. There is no need to separate items based on the receipts. This is useful for large projects that may have included multiple trips to the store.
Consumers are willing to travel to make returns. In fact, 63% said they prefer returning products in a store, compared to 23% who prefer to ship their returns. In-store returns provide an opportunity for stores to recoup some losses associated with returned products. A customer may bring back one shirt, only to discover two new shirts to purchase.
This is evident in the recent Kohl’s/Amazon partnership. Kohl’s now accepts Amazon returns at all locations, which is the store’s “single biggest initiative” of 2019. CEO Michelle Gass says Amazon Returns “drives customers into our stores,” and lets consumers bypass the shipping option. Kohl’s associates handle all return shipping free of charge.
When it comes to returns, 42% of respondents said they prefer getting their refund in cash. Another 35% prefer getting money back on their debit or credit card, while only 13% like receiving store credit.
A bad return experience can change a customer’s opinion about a merchant. The study showed found 69% of consumers will reconsider future purchases after a negative return experience. This includes being unable to return a product because they did not have a receipt, or attempted the return outside of the policy timeframe. After a bad experience, 83% of consumers go on to tell friends, family members, someone in the company, or a third-party review site.