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Reverse Logistics Update—Research Reveals Findings Behind Mobile Returns

New research from voice solutions provider Voxware identifies why consumers return items purchased online or by phone. In addition, findings reveal how consumers’ experiences with the return process affect their future purchase intentions with retailers.

When asked how important the return process is to their future intentions to shop with a retailer, 84 percent of survey participants said that it is extremely or very important. The majority, 57 percent of respondents, agreed that returning products bought online or by phone is moderately easy but annoying; while 16 percent confirmed the return process to be difficult.

Additionally, after returning an incorrect item, one-third of survey participants received the incorrect item for a second time. Half of these respondents stated that they are much less likely to shop with that retailer online or by phone again for future purchases.

What’s more, nearly one-third stated that they experience return issues more frequently with particular retailers, with 31 percent noting that they have to return items bought online or by phone more frequently when shopping with large versus small retailers. Of those who answered that they have experienced continuous return process issues with particular retailers, 25 percent have limited shopping with that retailer both online and in-store, while 15 percent stopped shopping with the retailer online altogether.

Once respondents return incorrect items to the retailer, nearly 20 percent expect the correct item to be shipped to them within one to two days; while 43 percent expect the item in three to four days.

“This research proves that the clear majority of product returns are due to retailer error,” said Keith Philips, President and Chief Executive Officer, Voxware. “Mistakes are happening too frequently, both in the initial delivery and in the return process. This not only increases supply chain costs but it also severely impacts customer satisfaction. As online shopping increases, the time to optimize supply chains for omni-channel delivery is now. Most errors occur in distribution centers at the moment orders are picked off of the shelves. Hands-free voice software can dramatically decrease these picking errors, so retailers can get it right the first time, cut returns, and boost shopper loyalty.”

Of the 600 survey respondents:

  • About 64 percent of respondents stated that the reason for returning an item purchased online or by phone is because the item is the incorrect size or color
  • About 84 percent of respondents stated that the return process is extremely or very important to their future intentions to shop with a retailer
  • A total of 50 percent of respondents who receive an incorrect item after already returning it once stated that they are much less likely to shop with that retailer online or by phone again for future purchases
  • Approximately 25 percent of respondents who have experienced continuous return process issues with particular retailers stated that they have limited shopping with that retailer both online and in-store
  • Nearly 20 percent of respondents expect the correct item to be shipped to them within one to two days after returning the incorrect item

 

To address why and how often respondents return purchased items, respondents answered for what reasons they have returned items purchased online or by phone:

  • A total of 64 percent stated that the item received is the correct item, but it is the incorrect size or color
  • A total of 47 percent stated that the item is correct, but they did not like the item once seeing it in-person
  • A total of 45 percent stated that the item received was the incorrect item altogether

 

When survey participants were asked which of the above reasons happens most frequently:

  • About 38 percent noted that more often, they return an item purchased online or by phone because it is the incorrect size or color
  • About 33 percent noted that more often, they return an item purchased online or by phone because they did not like the item once seeing it in-person
  • About 27 percent noted that more often, they return an item purchased online or by phone because it is the incorrect item altogether

 

Therefore, 65 percent of respondents replied that more often, they return items due to retailer error, whether the size/color is incorrect or the product is wrong altogether. Survey participants also answered what percentage of items that they have purchased online or by phone have been returned due to retailer error or dissatisfaction with the item:

  • About 63 percent answered that up to 10 percent of the items they purchase online or by phone are returned due to error or dissatisfaction
  • About 27 percent answered that between 11 to 30 percent of the items they purchase online or by phone are returned due to error or dissatisfaction
  • And 10 percent answered that more than one-third of the items they purchase online or by phone are returned due to error or dissatisfaction

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