Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Kodali says online shoppers are most likely to patronize retailers that offer free, no-hassle returns. Digitally native brands with venture capital cash in hand are leading in offering this perk.

Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research

Sucharita Kodali, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research

As ecommerce continues to grow, so do online returns. Digitally native startups are shifting shopper expectations with their customer-centric return processes, leading traditional retailers to rethink how they handle returns.

I recently dug into returns, and the result is my new research, “Retailers, Reduce The Pain Of Online Returns.”

Here are some of our key findings:

  • Shoppers expect a generous return policy when shopping online. Shoppers want generous return policies and say they are more likely to shop with retailers that offer free, no-hassle returns.
  • Digitally native brands have set the standard for online returns. Digitally native brands have taken advantage of their venture capital funding and the reluctance of offline competitors to offer generous return policies. These policies are costly, but they reduce friction in ecommerce and have helped grow online sales.
  • Retailers need to be creative about saving money on returns. Returns are a cost of doing business, but retailers also need to ensure that the associated costs are reasonable. They must make tradeoffs between return windows and reverse logistics costs, activate more physical drop-off locations, and limit the time frames to offset the generous return policies that shoppers expect.
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