Accelerating e-commerce activity during the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to drive an equally accelerated returns process post-holiday season, and retailer errors are adding fuel to the fire, according to data from supply chain technology firm Voxware, released this week.
Voxware surveyed U.S. retailers this fall for its biennial report on consumer reaction to incorrect and late deliveries. The research found that more than 40% of consumers had returned an item due to retailer error, up from 30% in 2018, and that retailers’ handling of returns is a major factor in customer satisfaction and retention.
“Delivering the right product on-time is critical, and even more so during the holiday season when consumer expectations are at an annual high,” the researchers wrote.
Other survey findings include:
26% of consumers said they returned items because they were delivered later than promised at the time of purchase, up from only 10% reporting returning late items in 2018.
51% of respondents said they returned an incorrect item only to have a wrong item sent the second time around.
56% of consumers said they prefer the option to return items via pre-paid postage, up from 47% in 2018. In-store returns saw a decrease in preference, dropping from 41% in 2018 to 34% this year.
97% of consumers said they agree or strongly agree that the way retailers handle returns influences whether or not they will purchase from that retailer in the future, a statistic that continues to grow, the research found. Today, if a mistake is made, nearly 40% of consumers say they expect to receive the correct item within one to two days of informing the retailer of the mistake.
Voxware previously reported that 30% of consumers are much less likely to purchase from an online retailer who has failed to deliver an item on-time in the past. The data also show that more than 43% of consumers say they are “very likely” to share their negative experiences online, up from 33% in 2018 and 23% in 2016.
“Given the year many retailers experienced, this is not the time for delivering mistakes,” the researchers said.