4 mins

4 ways location data helps improve the customer returns experience

Today, customers can buy what they want from anywhere in the world. No matter where they live or what language they speak, there’s one thing your shoppers have in common: they like things easy. That’s why most eCommerce businesses put heaps of effort into building the most seamless purchase journey. But few realise that to truly impress customers, the same amount of focus needs to go toward enhancing the returns experience.

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Prep your returns process for the holidays

As online sales continue to grow, it’s only natural that returns do the same. Especially during high-volume shopping periods like the holidays. From customers who bought the wrong size to those who’d prefer something off their wish list, nearly 40% of global shoppers are prepared to return gifts this season. But brands that use Loqate can turn this reality into an opportunity, successfully mitigating reverse logistics costs and securing lifelong customers. Here’s how:

Build customer confidence

The returns process often brings extra stress to shoppers. 2,000 Americans identified the most hated parts of online returns as paying for shipping (42%), having the item lost or not arrive at its destination (39%), and traveling to the post office (37%). It all boils down to inconvenience. The more friction introduced into the customer returns journey, the less likely they will become repeat customers.

Shoppers need the freedom that an easy return provides to shop online confidently. One of the best ways to simplify the returns process and prevent loss of money, effort and time is to utilise the power of location data. Location is more than just a physical address; details such as email addresses and phone numbers also play a large role in determining a customer’s digital identity. Loqate gives brands access to accurate location data that enables them to reduce the chance of failed deliveries, match returned items to correct customer profiles, deliver email or SMS communications on the status of returns and more. But businesses need to move fast; 79% of global shoppers plan to make returns in December and January.

Simplify the reverse logistics process

Unlike the purchase journey, which brings items to your door, the returns process works in reverse. During an order return, organisations will update their online system, which often generates a return slip and shipping label for the customer. From there, returned goods are received, processed and inspected before sending a refund. Shipping issues can easily occur, especially if the customer does not use a return shipping label generated by the seller and purchases a label directly from a carrier. Whether you handle the fulfillment process yourself or use a third-party logistics company (3PL), challenges that delay refund payment can occur if the customer data is unverified. This can frustrate the 62% of customers that expect an exchange or refund within 30 days of purchase.

Our recent survey found that 40% of shoppers are not likely to shop with a retailer again after a poor returns experience. Brands can reduce operational headaches with Loqate’s verified and reliable data. Validate that the origin address is up to date and accurate before printing the return label. Address verification catches address discrepancies during processing and allows the carrier to either contact the sender for amendment or auto correct the entry before delivering the package to its proper destination. Learn more about how our address autocomplete works here.

Optimize in-store returns

Buy online, return in-store (BORIS) is a popular option for customers who want credits to be issued quickly after return. This year, 32% of shoppers say they prefer to return or exchange their holiday gifts, and 62% are more likely to shop online if they can return their purchase to a physical store.

But not all customers have fully embraced the omnichannel experience. Two in three Americans believe the worst part of the shopping experience is going through the return item line. Organisations that work to change this narrative can increase customer satisfaction and drive competitive advantage. Not only are store returns more practical, but enticing customers to enter a store could prevent future returns and encourage more purchases.

With convenience at the forefront of customer need, retailers must collect high-quality data across all points of sale to make the returns process friction-free. Connect customer profiles with their online or in-store purchase histories using Loqate’s easy-to-integrate API to ensure return info matches the data captured during purchase. This will lower wait times, minimise the chance of fraud, and deliver a higher-quality CX.

Protect brands against fraud

An online returns portal may protect you from return fraud, but only if it is being powered by high-quality data. Some customers will try to take advantage of complex returns processes by claiming that everything is in their shipped box when it isn’t. Others may try to confuse retailers during in-store returns with false data and excuses. While methods for fraud prevention do exist, they tend to be too involved and time-consuming for ease-loving shoppers.

Failing to provide shoppers with a foolproof returns experience causes issues from lost customers to a plunge in revenue and inventory. Loqate’s verification tools can help increase consumer trust without increasing friction.

eCommerce organisations can onboard new customers in a way that is fast and secure by using proof of address, email address, or phone number as a form of identity verification. Using Loqate’s curated global data, businesses can identify stolen merchandise, expose fraudsters, and protect their users and brand reputation.

Turn returns into repeat customers with Loqate

A quarter of holiday shoppers buy items with the intention of returning them. Don’t miss this opportunity to build returns into your holiday strategy.

Let us help you prepare your business for one of the most hectic periods of the season. Check out our holiday resources to Learn how you can successfully engage and deliver cheer to every customer with holiday insights from 2,700 consumers across the world.