Online sales drive holiday spending — and returns
What did holiday shopping look like this year? Well, we recently reported how Mastercard – a company that just acquired Dynamic Yield from McDonald’s to personalize and contextualize offers to consumers – reports that retail sales have increased overall by 8.5% this holiday season (between November 1 and December 24). And online sales, Mastercard said, were up 11% from the same period last year.
Convenience dominates consumer values
The surge in online shopping has bigger implications for the retail industry as a whole, primarily because retailers simply haven’t perfected the digital experience. Spending on reader convenience, and it’s notable in the Mastercard report, for example, that online sales were extremely popular with consumers this holiday season: online sales accounted for more than 20% of sales total retail compared to last year.
Yet sales are only one part of the holiday shopping experience. It’s comeback season.
According to the PYMNTS study, nearly two-thirds (63%) of holiday shoppers will return at least one of their purchases and for a variety of reasons. The majority of returns are about the wrong fit, wrong color or wrong style – although in truth, it’s really hard to tell. Consumers often change their minds for various reasons and simply decide once they see an item that it no longer fits.
It is also an opportunity to build a relationship with the customer, mainly because for consumers it is a generally cumbersome and frustrating process. Although most retailers have made return shipping easy with pre-printed labels and convenient drop-off points, this is just a starting point. In fact, getting funds credited to their account can take a long time. This year in particular, the delay between return, receipt at the returns center and refund can be up to three weeks. This can financially disadvantage consumers who cannot do without these credits for such a long time.
Consumers want retailers who are on their side and have their best interests at heart. As PYMNTS reported, whether or not a merchant offers an easy-to-understand return policy could drive more than half of consumers — 55% — to switch to that brand. And consumers want their shipping costs to be fair so they don’t feel taken advantage of. Interestingly, shipping costs deter almost half – 48% – of consumers from traveling from one business site to another when making a purchase.
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