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The Retail Breakthrough in Streamlined Returns

Authored By: Jadah Hawkins

Turn Customers Making a Return into Long-term Brand Evangelists


The holiday shopping season is over, but January and February are busy months where retailers know they have another opportunity to make or break the customer experience (CX). To process an influx of return requests and hopefully turn them into buying opportunities, retailers need to maintain a simple and flexible return process in Q1 and throughout the year. Because what may seem like a ‘returns-only’ errand to a customer could be that LTV lead for your brand.

Here are some sure-fire ways to ensure a memorable and positive returns experience:

1. Use AI powered insights to make informed decisions.

AI is an indispensable asset that equips retailers with insights into consumer behavior allowing companies to understand reasons behind requests and to predict the volume of returns based on historical data. With these insights, you can implement data-driven tactics for further optimizing reverse logistics operations and adjusting return policies all year long.

Now more than ever, I see retailers investing in chatbots, and virtual assistants – a transformative shift that reduces the need of manpower in handling routine queries and protects the CX journey from fraudulent activities. Advanced chatbots are programmed to detect fraud by analyzing patterns and anomalies to ensure that legitimate returns are prioritized. They offer personalized return solutions based on each customer’s preferences, including suggesting alternative products, proposing store credit as an option, or providing incentives to encourage exchanges over returns.

2. Make your return policies flexible with multiple options.

Studies show that customers pay more for products with flexible returns policies, which has made returns an inevitable expense of doing business. One of the most effective tactics we’ve initiated with our retail clients is adopting lenient return policies that offer customers widespread user-friendly options. This has drastically helped brands to attract new and repeat customers, maintaining a competitive edge in the industry.

Ultimately, it all boils down to the experience—that’s how customers determine if they connect with your brand. From extending return windows, establishing dedicated return platforms to offering flexible refund options, make sure your services meet them where they’re at and make it as easy as possible for them to want to come back.

3. Proactively communicate with frequency, empathy and transparency.

After having fine-tuned strategies for a positive return experience, frequently communicate the policies and provide status updates. I share with our clients that there is power in the little things…like promoting return policy information in stores, on websites, packaging materials, bills, product pages, and across all touchpoints. An effectively communicated policy saves you time while ensuring a frictionless service for your customers. People want to know things up front—it causes less confusion and frustration in the long run, which is a win-win for brand and consumer!

As a rule of thumb, ensure that the policies are easy to follow and mention all details about return options, expected timelines and potential fees, transparently. The effectiveness of flexible policies hinges on customer awareness and understanding.

A bad return experience can harm a brand’s reputation and make gift buyers think twice about making a purchase at all during the rest of the year. Narvar’s data reveals 96% of consumers choose retailers providing an “easy” or “very easy” return experience. Considering this, focus on creating a process that not just eases any misgivings of the customer but rather encourages repeat purchases. And remember, improving the customer experience is constantly an iterative process so let’s keep making it better throughout 2024!


Learn more about Alorica's digital retail CX solutions and capabilities here.


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