Raise the bar of online marketing with smart returns


In the near future, 45% of purchases are expected to be made online, continuing the transition to digital shopping long after the pandemic is over. COVID has introduced millions of Australians to online shopping and has dramatically increased the frequency of online shopping. While welcome, it presents new challenges. Marketers need to maximize their effectiveness to reach these buyers and can’t afford to get lost in the noise.

Connecting with consumers is easier when data is used efficiently. Unsurprisingly, data-driven marketing tactics are on the forefront for 2021, especially in terms of customer acquisition – SEO, long tail research, social media integration, and pixel retargeting are all things. keys to an ecommerce marketing toolkit. But there is a risk that by focusing on acquisition, retail marketers will miss out on some crucial data sources that could allow them to develop long-term relationships with this new cohort of customers and, ultimately, ultimately, increase profitability by increasing Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV).

Ecommerce returns represent a rich vein of exactly this type of valuable data. While online sales grew 72.9% year-over-year in November 2020, returns volumes have also increased. This alone has been a compelling factor for retailers to embrace smarter digital returns processes, reducing the burden of returns. What they discovered is that having digital return processes also allows them to capture quality data that informs their marketing efforts and helps them retain long-term customer loyalty.

It is tempting for retailers to try to minimize the rate of product returns by making the process more difficult for customers. This is understandable, given that returns can appear to be a cost borne by retailers without reward. The problem is, making your customers’ lives harder goes against some basic retail principles, and while it can save you money in the short run, you’re constantly limiting your efforts to loyalty of the clientele. Another nasty side effect is that you effectively isolate yourself from a vital source of customer feedback and data.


A digital returns platform generates simple but very valuable buyer information. Who is returning, what are they returning and why? The answers to these questions give you the actionable data to better plan resources, target more effectively, and identify recurring product issues. Sure, you can get some of this data from a paper return slip, but how much of that data is accurately transferred into a digital system where anyone can actually use it? Once the received return has been associated with the original order, the paper is usually thrown away with its valuable data.

Returns data can inform purchasing and merchandising decisions. If you can measure the effect of returns on the profitability of individual customers or customer segments, you can begin to target your marketing more effectively to those who are less likely to come back, or those who come back a lot but also buy fairly frequently. to compensate for that. And when you see returns made digitally, before they appear in your fulfillment center, you can react and plan with proper visibility.

Significantly, 41% of shoppers stopped shopping from a retailer after a bad return online experience. This is a red flag for any retailer who still views returns as an afterthought, as they are highly unlikely to get a second chance with modern consumers. Providing a digital return journey is a great way to make your customers’ lives easier, not harder. The other key is how they can physically collect their returned purchase from you – it should also be convenient and straightforward.

Some omnichannel retailers might encourage customers to make all returns in their physical stores, but the pandemic has shown that this is not always practical or feasible. Instead, offering buyers a range of return methods makes it easier for more of your customers to travel, while increasing the speed at which buyers can complete the return. Services such as the Australia Post Collect and Return network enable retailers to offer their customers a wider range of drop-off points, including post offices, street PO boxes, and third-party locations such as supermarkets, department stores and pharmacies.

At a crucial retail time like today, winning a slice of the new online spending pie is essential to preparing retailers for future success. Just as important is keeping that part and keeping your promise to customers. Online retailers who adopt digital return policies will be in place for months and years to come, giving marketing teams a gold mine of actionable data and making returns a long-term loyalty driver, not only a cost to be avoided.

Justin Dery is the APAC CEO of Doddle.


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