The New Shopping Bag: Shipping and Returns

The New Shopping Bag: Shipping and Returns

Some of the biggest differences between the eCommerce and brick-and-mortar customer experiences come from the difference between handing an item across a counter and shipping it to the customer’s home or office in a box.

The need in eCommerce to bridge the gap between the virtual world of buying an item and the physical world of owning an item places a particularly heavy weight on shipping. As we have noted before, the kind of shipping experience a company delivers can have a major impact on whether or not a customer will do business with you again: 87% of consumers report that a positive delivery experience makes them more likely to shop with a merchant again. On the flip side, 37% of consumers report that a bad experience will lead them to blackball a merchant and never shop with them again.

This means it is really important to offer your customers a range of shipping options (both timing and price) that are a strategic fit for your company, markets, and customers, and to make those options clear as early in the purchasing process as you can. It’s also important to recognize that how you package your products is important to customer satisfaction: Google “unboxing” and you will get over 31 million hits. Customers share their shipping and delivery experiences – broadly. Delight them, and many people will know. Upset them, and many people will know.

The flip side of delivery is the return process. Offering free returns is a best practice: 79% of shoppers rate the availability of free returns as an important factor in selecting an online retailer in the first place. Omnichannel retailers have the option of offering return-in-store; indeed, Amazon and Kohl’s announced last year that they were partnering to allow returns of goods ordered from Amazon to some Kohl’s stores.

Simplicity in returning unwanted items is key; no one wants to struggle with a complex or confusing return process. Remember that, if a customer is returning an item, they are perceiving the purchase to be, at least in some way, a failure; making the return process as simple as possible can go a long way toward ameliorating any potential unhappiness.

This is the last of our blog entries on the new eCommerce customer journey in and of itself; next, we’ll be turning to how it specifically affects different roles within eCommerce companies – including, possibly, yours. Stay tuned.