Are you ready to take on the challenge to improve your retail omnichannel returns? As more and more consumers expect seamless returns across all channels, the role of a returns leader has never been more crucial for omnichannel retailers. Returns are an essential part of the customer experience. By offering standout features that create shopper-friendly experiences, retailers can turn returns into opportunities to impress customers and build brand loyalty.
Benchmarking exceptional retail omnichannel returns processes
The research company Incisiv designed the Omnichannel Returns Digital Maturity Benchmark in partnership with Appriss® Retail to assess the digital returns capabilities of 128 retailers across four key areas. The retailers represent nine different industry sub-segments: Apparel Basic (23), Consumer Electronics (9), Department Stores (15), General Merchandise (10), Grocery (14), Health & Beauty (14), Home Improvement and Furniture (15), Luxury (9), and Specialty (20).
By offering standout features that create shopper-friendly experiences, retailers can turn returns into opportunities to impress customers and build brand loyalty.
Each retailer was given an overall rating as well as a functional-area rating for the four assessment areas: product content and digital experience, return policy and information, return and refund process, and 360-degree service. Each assessment area covered table stakes and differentiating attributes, which are based on the overall adoption, perceived value by shoppers, and impact on key performance indicators (KPIs) such as average order value, conversion traffic, and customer satisfaction.
- Table stakes capabilities are retailer must-haves that address key shopper expectations. They include attributes sizing tools, online demos, ability to initiate returns online, and options to return online purchases in-store (BORIS). The absence of these foundational capabilities will negatively impact digital performance KPIs.
- Differentiating capabilities address important emerging shopper expectations and boost digital performance KPIs when present. Some examples include the option to try and buy, availability of delivery timelines on product pages, clear information about returns of gift cards and sale items, and the option to schedule customer service interactions via audio, video, or chat.
The assessment assigned each retailer to one of four categories—Leaders, Challengers, Followers, and Laggards. The 128 businesses ranked as follows:
Leaders (19) offer the richest customer service maturity within and across retail segments. They have the highest adoption of table stakes capabilities, lead in the adoption of differentiated experiences, and are functionally mature across most assessment areas. They anticipate their consumers’ needs and provide an elevated and fine-tuned consumer experience using personalization and flexibility.
Challengers (35) offer a seamless service maturity built on a solid foundation of capabilities. They offer some differentiated experiences but lack the depth and coverage of Leaders with only a medium adoption of differentiators across omnichannel.
Followers (41) offer a basic level of digital maturity, addressing most table-stakes capabilities. Their consumer experiences lack depth and are light on adoption of differentiated capabilities.
Laggards (33) lack even some of the most basic table-stakes functionality, putting them seriously behind the curve in all categories of digital maturity. They offer some basic foundational capabilities, but they provide no differential experiences.
Who are the retail omnichannel returns leaders?
The 2023 study named 19 retailers as Omnichannel Returns Leaders (listed in alphabetical order): Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Lane Bryant, Levi’s, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, QVC, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Staples, Target, The Home Depot, Walmart, and Wayfair. The 2022 study named 14 Leaders.
How does your returns strategy compare?
Keep in mind, no company received a perfect score, showing there is universal room for improvement. Fortunately, digital tools and research, such as this report by Incisiv, can help you identify gaps in your strategy. Download the full report to get tips for improving your retail omnichannel returns and digital maturity.
Pete Barker, Director of Product, Appriss Retail
Pete Barker has a long history in Retail Loss Prevention, most notably as the Sr. Manager of Digital Loss Prevention at Dick's Sporting Goods where he built the Digital Loss Prevention department/team from scratch. He was the Director of Fraud and Identity for technology provider SpyCloud before joining Appriss Retail in 2023. Pete is also very active with the Merchant Risk Council (MRC), holding the position of Fraud Community Committee Member since 2019, as well as a mentor for the MRC since 2019. He was also an MRC Regional Advisory Board Member from 2/20-2/21.