Retailers should change their mindset to view returns as a profit center, not a burdensome cost, says Itamar Zur, co-founder and chief executive officer of Veho.
Returns are a natural and inevitable part of e-commerce, and brands need to make the process easy for customers, regardless of how onerous it might be for the seller, Zur says. Many e-commerce shoppers will order an item in multiple sizes, then return all but the one that fits. If they have to go through a complex process of printing a label and taking the items to a physical location, they’re going to have a negative experience with the e-tailer, and will likely not shop there in future. Or they won’t place an order at all.
In a time of thin margins and economic uncertainty, it’s understandable that a retailer would want to tighten up the returns process, which they view as a cost center. Zur believes they should adopt a different mindset — one that treats returns as a means of ensuring customer loyalty, repeat business and long-term profitability.
“It’s a question of how to do it in a way that’s economical, elevates the customer experience and builds long-term loyalty to the brand,” says Zur. “That’s where the profit is.”
In retailing, customer retention is the name of the game. It’s six times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to service an existing one, Zur says. E-tailers have access to the same manufacturers, warehouses, supply chain service providers and technology. The differentiator, he says, lies in the end-customer experience — and that means having an efficient and easy way to return unwanted items. “It’s the key to keeping customers,” he adds.
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