Is Free Return Shipping for Online Orders Next?
According to a recent survey, 88 percent of respondents rated free
return shipping as important, or very important when making a purchasing decision.
high results aren’t so surprising since the survey came from freeshipping.com,
a subscription based shopping program specializing in free shipping offers. Even
further skewing the findings, the respondents were 314 of freeshipping.com’s
members that had only joined the group since, presumably, they want free shipping.
president and chief operating officer of FreeShipping.com, nonetheless, told Multichannel
Merchant that brick & mortar stores clearly have
a competitive advantage by being able to offer in-store returns for online purchases.
E-tailers offering free returns are likely to retain customers "since an
unexpected complication with their order becomes far less complicated, and fosters
goodwill when the merchant picks up the cost of getting it right."
agree that site-wide free shipping can be challenging to "justify
economically." But by offering free shipping to a select group of consumers, "companies
can strike a balance between fostering goodwill with their best customers and
ensuring repeat purchases," said Mr. Caporaso.
A scant few online retailers
offer free returns. Zappos has a well-known free-return policy, believing it
provides an impetus for online browsers to try items. Competitors Piperlime
and shoebuy.com also offer free returns. But most e-commerce sites only appear
to offer free returns if the return was their fault.
Here are a few return policies
found by RetailWire:
- Amazon.com’s return policy states, "If you return an item using the
return label provided in the Online Returns Center and the reason for return
is not a result of our error, the cost of return shipping will be deducted
from your refund." Free returns are also not covered under its Amazon
- Overstock.com likewise offers a refund covering the full cost of the merchandise
and shipping charges if the return is "a result of our error or defective
product." If the item is returned unopened within 30 days of delivery,
Overstock refunds the full cost of the merchandise minus the original shipping
charge and actual return shipping fees.
- Walmart’s return policy states, "If there is an error on our part
related to your order, we will issue a credit for your order and any applicable
shipping and gift-wrapping charges." It also emphasized that any online
purchases can be returned to any store for free within 90 days.
- Best Buy encourages consumers to "avoid shipping charges and receive
a refund more quickly by returning online orders to any Best Buy store within
the United States." It advises returnees forced to mail to use UPS ground
or insured USPS to ensure proof of delivery.
- Nordstrom takes $6.00 off the refund for online buyers returning using
its prepaid label while encouraging consumers to bring the packing slip and
credit card to any of its stores to avoid shipping charges.
- Macy’s Elite & Platinum cardholders get free returns by mail on macys.com
- Survey: Consumers Want Free Return Shipping – Multichannel
Return Policy – Nordstrom
- Return Policy for Items Purchased Online – Best Buy
- Overstock.com Refund Policy – Overstock.com
- Amazon.com’s Product Return Policies – Amazon.com
- Walmart Return Policy – Walmart
- Macy’s Return Policy – Macy’s
Discussion Questions: Will free returns for online purchases become a competitive necessity for leading retailers? Do brick & click retailers have an advantage over pure play e-tailers in the area of returns?