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July 7, 2023

Hassle-Free Returns: The Secret Sauce of the Logistics Industry

For decades, the return policies on e-commerce items have been points of contention for consumers and retailers alike. Retailers that don’t offer a simple return policy for their online shoppers see major impacts on their revenue and customer loyalty. Let’s not forget the pre-purchase impacts on abandoned carts, either.

It’s clear as crystal -- returns ought to be top of mind for any retailer who wants to ensure a seamless shopping experience for their customers.

Here at Intelcom, we are continually striving to go above and beyond to support our clients and to innovate on existing industry standards.

And returns are no exception.

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The word on the street

Ecommerce return volume has more than doubled in 2020 with over a third of total retail returns coming from ecommerce sales. The opportunity for retailers to set themselves apart from others with a quality returns policy is massive.

Ahmed Asghar, Senior Product Manager in Returns, shares his thoughts, "Returns is a very, very important aspect of the business for us. In order to encourage a customer to be able to buy freely, you need to have a good returns policy. Roughly 17% of the items that were bought in 2022 came back as returns. So at this point, it's a matter of capturing it, because we do see that with [large retailers] relaxing policies in terms of returns and the convenience for the customer to buy something from their home, the need to return something that they don't want or that doesn't fit their needs has also gone up."

For retailers that operate in custom or fashion industries where the fit of a purchase can be an issue, these numbers become even more important. Oftentimes consumers will choose to overspend and return products they do not want (think outfits in various sizes, colours and fits that consumers can try at home). They then return options that don't work and get refunded for their purchases.

Intelcom clients value quality returns

Intelcom conducted a pulse survey of over 2,400 consumers, asking them to rank logistics functionalities or features from the most important to the least important, and 49% said that the possibility of easily returning their package was most important to them.

Cyrine Ben Ncib, Consumer Experience Strategist, explains, "If you look at it from a B2B perspective, returns are a major loyalty opportunity for merchants. As a consumer, if you're making a purchase online and you feel the return process is difficult or going to take a lot of time, you're just going to leave. If that merchant has a very smooth return process, you will see the consumer behaviour change, and they will actually purchase more. If Intelcom offers a very smooth, fast and easy return experience, the merchant is actually responding to consumer demand and strengthening their opportunity for customer loyalty.”

A solid and seamless returns policy helps build customer loyalty, reduces abandoned carts, and makes for an enjoyable customer service experience in the limited face-to-face interaction that online shopping incites.

"We're switching to a very user-oriented mindset, and we're taking advantage of the tools we have to collect a lot of user insights. We have AI tools that help us analyze the feedback we receive [after each delivery]”, says Cyrine. “That also backs most of the decisions we make regarding products and services. The main goal is to have consumer and user-oriented services."

It's all about removing barriers

So what is Intelcom doing to innovate on the industry's standard return policies?

Nothing that's ever been done before.

Enter: Home Hand-Off.

Ditch the packing tape and the frantic hunt for printer cartridges. The need to package, label and return your items to a specific depot is a thing of the past. The Home Hand-Off is a return service that requires no repackaging. Simply request a pick-up through Intelcom, and one of our drivers will come to your home to pick up your item, and return it to the retailer for you. Your consumer credits or refunds will be issued as soon as the return is collected.

"Even in the [Home Hand-Off] space, we were the innovators. Nobody has done it this way before." Says Ahmed, "We see returns as a very, very valuable industry to be part of. Intelcom is making all the efforts to capture that market and make those options available."