Returns To Become An Even Bigger Battle For Independent Retailers
Over almost 20 years consulting for independent retailers, I have heard most call customer returns “the nightmare that never ends”.
According to Amazon’s latest announcements there is a new boogie man joining those nightmares.
JUST IMAGINE…YOUR STORE LOOKING LIKE THIS…
WITH LONG LINES OF CUSTOMERS AND MINIMAL DISCOUNTS…
AND LOOKING LIKE THIS AFTER YOUR BIG SALE IS OVER…
In the past few years the big leg up that independent retailers had against ecommerce domination and in particular Amazon, was that it can be a hassle to return something purchased online.
Most people have to print out a label, tape up the box and drive it to the post office and wait in line. A huge hassle for busy people.
A big game changer on some items was the ability to take it to a UPS store and have them print the label for you on site for free and take it off your hands.
Some will even tape up the box and put the label on for you. This option was certainly more convenient than facing the post office.
Many customers still favored going into a physical store and just picking up what they needed and had more confidence in a purchase they made in person.
The consumer felt that if they could see an item and touch it, that the need for a return would be much less than an online experience.
Enter the newest boogie man in the “return nightmare” of independent retailers. Now the customer can purchase something from Amazon and be able to return it to any Kohl’s store – all 1,150 of them! No box, no label – no problem.
And it costs the customer zero!
This will be a huge shift in the decision that faces any shopper in where to buy a desired item.
Many shoppers report that they feel strongly that this new program is a no lose system and they see nothing but benefit for them.
The shoppers go on to say they are far more likely to take the risk to order multiple items they would like online, due to the fact that they can just return anything they don’t want faster and easier then if they would have bought it at a brick and mortar store.
Customer expectation isn’t getting any kinder to independent retailers. Actually, retail experts have reported that an overwhelming 82% of customers considered returns a routine part of shopping and they don’t expect to be questioned anything about the return.
Most all independent retailers have had to adjust their policies to reflect the growing consumer expectation of unlimited, unquestioned and expedited returns in this Amazon dominated market.
The store’s process had better be fast and easy or the customer is unlikely to return.
Also, one little glitch in the return process can mean a loss of profit for the retailer.
Without seamless processes in place from the moment the return enters the store, the many steps to keep the customer satisfied and get the item returned to saleable status can really impact a store’s bottom line.
There is no doubt that returns are costly for independent retailers.
A number of clients that I have helped conduct a store closing sale, have listed challenges with returns of merchandise at the top of their lists for their declining sales.
If you are seeing effects like these in your store, let’s talk about an exit strategy for your business.