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Once the holidays end, many feel like they’re entering the doldrums until spring rolls around. Besides short days, chilly temperatures and big credit card bills to deal with, LoyaltyOne polling conducted at the end of last month found that the weeks following the holidays meant something else for consumers, too: gift return stress. Among US shoppers studied, 50.9% said returning gifts added to their post-holiday stress, and 39% had regifted an item so that they could avoid the return process altogether. This was even truer for millennials and women, among whom 55.5% and 57.9%, respectively, said returning gifts stressed them out.
LoyaltyOne noted that the gift return experience was both high risk and high reward. For one, 60.6% of respondents said they would abandon a retailer after a poor gift return experience. Nearly 87% of shoppers also said they would tell family and friends about a negative return experience. But if retailers can provide a positive experience, they stand a good chance at turning a gift-returner into a frequent shopper. Nearly eight in 10 (79.3%) said they would be motivated to shop more at a retailer they rarely visited if they had a nice gift return experience.
Retailers may need to give males extra attention during the returns process. Fully 45.1% of men polled reported having a poor experience when returning a gift, vs. 31.7% of women. And more than eight in 10 (81.7%) males would be motivated to frequent a retailer more often after a positive gift return experience, compared with 70.7% of women.
Online retailers need to worry just as much about making returns easier, too, as some shoppers have issues with this process. For example, in an April 2014 study by hybris, return policies were the primary complaint about digital shopping for 10.4% of US internet users. Further, in a June 2014 study by Harris Interactive, 14% of US internet users said the length of time it took for a return or exchange to process was a digital shopping pet peeve.
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