Fifty-seven percent of consumers say returns are a hassle or could be easier, according to Oracle's new Global Customer Experience Trends report emailed to Retail Dive. Meanwhile, Oracle found that 57% of retailers surveyed said returning products is "very easy."
Traditional stores had the best consumer perception for ease of returns (46%), while 43% of respondents said returns to online retailers were "very easy." Forty percent of those surveyed said returning to direct-to-consumer brands was very easy.
Oracle also found retailers and consumers are mismatched about the in-store encounters. Thirty-five percent of retailers cited "experience" as their main in-store priority, while consumers chose convenience (56%) as their greatest indicator of a good shopping trip. Oracle surveyed more than 15,800 consumers and 200 retailers globally for the report.
In a fiercely competitive landscape, consumers have high expectations of retailers, both in-store and online. Take the online ordering experience, for example: Forty-seven percent of consumers said the delivery option they want is "sometimes, rarely or never" available. And while 92% said they would like or love to have free one-day delivery, there's little room for retailer error: 13% of respondents said they would never order from that company again if their order didn't arrive on time.
The findings show that there's still a gap between what customers expect and what retailers are delivering. Bridging that gap, according to Oracle, requires a proactive approach on the part of brands. Easing the returns process is a crucial component to manage, especially now as the holiday season approaches. According to a different Oracle report, 77% of consumers expect to return a portion of their gifts this year, with nearly 20% expecting to return more than half.
"Moving from returns management to capitalizing on the moment requires a shift in thinking and processes to allow for better intelligence gathering," the report said. It's not just about making returns easier to complete, but about getting better data about why a customer is making a return, Oracle noted.
Several retailers are already easing return obstacles for customers by offering more options for shipping their online returns. Brands that use FedEx can have customers take returns to Walgreens or Dollar General locations for consolidation and shipment, for example, while customers returning packages via UPS can drop them at Michael's craft stores, among others. And Amazon has continued to expand its returns locations to include Kohl's, Rite Aid and Stein Mart locations.