Jelle Schoenmaker, Managing Director and Joseph Valentine, Senior Sales Executive, Cycleon
Sustainability and convenience are not typically paired together when it comes to ecommerce operations and activities. With the modern consumer now regarding convenient features such as free and fast delivery and returns as the norm, brands who do not offer this may lose out to competitors in the race to secure customer loyalty and return spending.
Such features, as well as others such as ‘pay later’ options, do not encourage a greener approach to commerce as they spur on higher order volumes, which result in increased returns volumes, too. If a brand’s returns flow is not sustainably optimised, processing these returns will require more packaging, produce and transport – all of which take up more resources, whether this be materials or energy, that could otherwise be avoided.
Luckily for both brands and their consumers, convenience does not always have to be compromised within a sustainable reverse logistics model. Not only can these desired features be maintained through localised operations and data-driven decision making, but our studies have also shown that customers worldwide are willing to compromise on these features if their returns can be processed in a more environmentally conscious way. This highlights that sustainable initiatives actually benefit the consumer experience.
In Cycleon’s global market study on consumer returns behaviour, we gathered more than 3,800 responses from online shoppers located in 12 countries. We uncovered that in most territories, around three in four respondents indicated that they would be prepared to wait longer for a refund if their return was handled sustainably. Additionally, one in two of those surveyed also indicated that although free returns are valuable, they would be willing to pay for their return to be handled responsibly. In Europe, this value was 73 per cent of those questioned, and in North America, the total was 75 per cent. This is an interesting insight because it shows that, although convenient features are highly sought after by consumers, sustainability is fast becoming a major demand. It is an expectation and responsibility that will only grow over the coming years as all areas of society become more aware of the need for greener practices in everyday life. If concessions to convenience are needed to secure a greener returns flow, it seems that the majority of customers would accept them. Given that concessions are not always needed, offering more sustainable returns will only enhance the customer experience in the long run.