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2022 Omnichannel Returns Index

Incisiv, in partnership with Appriss Retail, announced the release of its 2022 Omnichannel Returns Index, assessing top retailers' returns capabilities and experiences across four key areas: product content and digital experience, returns policy and information, returns and refund process, and 360-degree service.

Returns accounted for 10.6% of retail trade in 2020. With increased eCommerce adoption across retail segments, returns are set to grow exponentially in 2022 and beyond. Retailers’ digital experiences play a big part in both reducing the incidence of returns as well as making the return experience seamless. While retailers have adopted some key commerce capabilities that help reduce returns and improve the returns experience, there is significant scope for improvement.

Every return interaction is ultimately part of the larger fabric of a retailer-shopper relationship. Retailers must expand their ability to understand, analyze and act according to this broader context. Key findings of the report include:

• Health and beauty retailers offer the most advanced functionality around product information and guided content. This reduces the occurrence of returns based on poor or lacking product detail.

• While 60% of retailers allow shoppers to cancel an order before it ships, only 16% allow order modifications.

• The apparel segment is the most mature when it comes to offering returns flexibility. All assessed apparel retailers allow online orders to be returned in stores, and 90% allow replacements or exchanges.

• Leading retailers are beginning to offer flexible return policies, including as a special benefit for loyal or valuable shoppers. Incisiv reports that 26% of assessed retailers have return windows over 60 days.

• As shoppers demand greater returns convenience, new and differentiating capabilities are emerging. Currently only 20% of retailers in the report have chat agents who can help shoppers initiate returns, and 3% allow shoppers to return items curbside.

Incisiv has recognized 14 retailers and brands as “Leaders”, including Apple, Best Buy, Levi’s, Sephora and The Home Depot. The report details key differentiating capabilities and highlights experiences from each to illustrate what makes them stand out. The complete list of Leaders is available to download here.

“The profile of returns has been growing and the pandemic has only accelerated their importance in the retail shopping journey,” said Amarjot Mokha, Chief Operating Officer, Incisiv. “The narrative on returns has to change in retail because as they grow, they will pose a customer, financial and environment threat to a retailer’s business. Real savings and enhanced customer satisfaction can be had if retailers devote real resources to the returns process.”

“Retailers must re-think returns as an integral part of their business strategy,” said Steve Prebble, President, Appriss Retail. “Retail is dealing with an influx of returned items; now is the time to stop thinking of returns as a cost of doing business and begin to view them as a time to really engage with your consumers.”

Download the complete 2022 Omnichannel Returns Benchmark Index here.