I’ve always pushed my clients to encourage their customers to return goods in-store.
Why? Because it gives you a chance to get in front of your customer again, which is great for a number of reasons.
Just recently, Home Depot released some data on their online order in-store returns, one of the first big retailers to do so and really eye-opening.
Even if you offer customers free shipping on returns, the real friction with returns comes in the form of actually doing the work. The average person would rather not have to go through the effort of packaging up and returning an item.
That leaves you with in-store returns, and it blows my mind that merchants with great physical store presence are not taking advantage of this amazing sales opportunity.
In-Store Returns are a Sales Opportunity!
It’s really rare that I talk to a physical retailer who tells me that their website and online customer service is better at educating and selling their customers product. Actually, I don’t know of an example where this is the case.
There’s always a reason or an excuse for not wanting to take returns in-store.
Sometimes it’s technology related. Usually this means that their online inventory is totally separate from in-store inventory right down to their SKU/Style numbers. Or they have no way to pull up an online order in-store to process the return.
Sometimes a merchant is scared. They are scared that if they make it easy for people to return an item, that all of their customers will take advantage of them. This is especially noticeable in retailers that thrived on the anonymous big-box store era of retailing where they never actually had to talk to their customers.
In-Store Returns = Better CLV
Here’s the deal. There will always be a reason not to do something. Heck, we humans are great at rationalizing anything in any direction. It’s what we do.
But that doesn’t mean we’re being smart. In almost all cases, enabling your online customers to return items in store will result in an overall better customer experience and ultimately an increase in lifetime value of your customers.