The internet has done a lot to level the playing field between buyers and sellers. There’s a new generation of “smart customers” who – with a few clicks – can compare competitive products, their features, prices, availability and delivery options, product reviews, etc.
By 2020, that 100 million consumers will shop virtually which explains why more and more business have transitioned into e-businesses to attract customers, sustain competition and grow. Many traditional business and established brands are moving from conservative shop-centric or geography-focused businesses to a more customer-centric and borderless e-commerce (online) business.
Being omni-channel is the latest sales approach that uses multiple sales channels while giving the customer a seamless shopping experience. When different channels get integrated at the back end, a customer can check a company’s website for availability of a selected product using his desktop and later purchase the product with a smartphone, tablet or by visiting the store.
Exceeding customer expectation is the new ‘normal’ in the current day competitive market. And, omni-channel evidences enhanced customer experience.
Although omni-channel has the potential to help businesses exceed customer expectations, there’s a flip side to the story.
Apart from the obvious challenge of adverse financial impact, there are several operational challenges associated with managing returns. Major ones are arranging collection of returned goods, allocation of storage space in warehouses, disposal of the returned item for a refurbishment or ‘as is’ sale (as appropriate). Not to mention the time and manpower associated with such tasks.
One of the biggest challenges of omni-channel is returns management and planning for reverse logistics. According to Invesp inforgraphic on online return rates statistics, at least 30% of all products ordered online are returned. Clearly, businesses need to work around the return challenge in-order to profit.
A survey by Deloitte revealed that while 81% of customers want clear instructions on return policies, only 41% of online retailers met this requirement. Fulfilling this need represents a clear the path to a marketable, competitive advantage for online businesses – but it does come with a price tag.
Winning the online market is all about winning trust. A clear and simple return policy certainly helps. Here’s how you can do it:
With e-commerce giants like Amazon who have set high customer service standards, newer and smaller businesses have an all-the-more acute competition to deal with. Hence, it is vital that businesses plan and manage returns appropriately to sustain and grow.
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