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Returns concern: Shoppers avoid international retail purchases

Returns concern: Shoppers avoid international retail purchases
Returns concern: Shoppers avoid international retail purchases

One in four shoppers avoid buying from international retailers due to concerns around returns. This has been revealed in the latest report by Asendia and ESW, a leading global direct-to-consumer e-commerce company. 

Key findings from data collected from over 18,000 respondents across 18 countries reveal that customers have high and varied expectations for the post-purchase journey, especially when it comes to cross-border returns.

Some willing to pay return fees 

Almost half of consumers said they’re okay with a small fee for returns. Gen Z is 1.7 times more likely than Baby Boomers to accept this charge. Among the countries surveyed, India, UAE, and South Korea are most willing to pay return fees.

Helen Scurfield, CEO of global returns at Asendia says in today’s global marketplace, a robust cross-border returns strategy isn’t just another box to tick, it’s a strategic imperative. “Prioritizing a seamless, customer-centric return process enhances satisfaction, builds trust, and ultimately fuels long-term success. Each market is a unique ecosystem, with distinct customer behaviors and preferences,” says Scurfield. 

Logistics and shipping

Companies are realizing the importance of returns for their business – and for their customers. 

Last month, Pitney Bowes, a leading US-based international company specializing in shipping, mailing, and integrated technology and financial solutions, announced its latest enhancements in tracking and returns services. 

Returns fees are to now become the norm, according to Sendcloud. Its recent report found that 79% of fashion retailers charging for and paid returns are increasingly taking the stage in the fashion industry. 

Online businesses 

When it comes to online stores, managing returns is crucial to maintaining customer loyalty and ensuring long-term success. There are several factors businesses need to consider to stay ahead of the game.

Customer trust and satisfaction: A flexible and hassle-free policy builds trust with customers. It also reassures them that if a product isn’t right, they can send it back easily, making them more comfortable shopping online and increasing repeat business. A win for the store!

  • Competitive advantage: With many online stores competing for customers, a customer-friendly return process can differentiate a brand. Stores with clear, fair policies attract more buyers and reduce cart abandonment.
  • Brand loyalty: Satisfied customers who have had positive return experiences are more likely to shop again, leave good reviews, and recommend the store to others, strengthening brand loyalty.
  • Reduced uncertainty: Many customers worry about product quality or fit when shopping online. A flexible policy reduces this uncertainty, encouraging more purchases.
  • Data insights: Returns provide valuable insights into customer preferences and product issues, helping stores refine their inventory and minimize future returns.

Return logistics in action

Imagine a fashion enthusiast browsing an online store for a new jacket. She finds one she likes and makes the purchase after carefully reading the size guide. However, when it arrives, the jacket is too tight around her shoulders. 

The shopper knows the store offers a straightforward return policy, allowing returns within 30 days. She logs into her account, selects the “Return” option, and prints a prepaid shipping label provided by the store.

After packaging the jacket and dropping it off at her local post office, she receives an email confirming the store has received her return and will process her refund. Within a week, the shopper receives her refund in full. 

She also receives a follow-up email thanking her for her feedback, with a discount code for her next purchase.

Feeling satisfied with the prompt service and straightforward process, the fashion enthusiast uses the discount code to buy another jacket in the right size. She remains loyal to the brand, knowing she can shop confidently due to their excellent return policy.

Photo Credit: Canva

About the author

Sharl is a qualified journalist. He has over 10 years’ experience in the media industry, including positions as an editor of a magazine and Business Editor of a daily newspaper. Sharl also has experience in logistics specifically operations, where he worked with global food aid organisations distributing food into Africa. Sharl enjoys writing business stories and human interest pieces.

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