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October 2, 2018
The estimated time to read this article is 6 Minutes

In-Store Returns – Omnichannel strategies

In our previous blog, we spoke about the importance of ship-from-store capabilities in omnichannel strategies. Shipping-from-store increases efficiency and cuts costs. It also allows for in-store pick-up. This means that online orders can be picked up in a brick-and-mortar that is closest to the customer. With the right systems in place, it is a small step to also allow customers in-store returns to your brick-and-mortar stores.

53% returns an online purchase

Returns are a daily business for many e-commerce retailers. Various studies show return rates to be as high as between 30 and 53 percent. Even though returns cost retailers quite some time and money, handling returns will always be a part of retailing. In e-commerce, it is even embedded in such a way that customers expect to be able to return an item if it does not fit their needs.

There are many factors that customers look at when shopping online. Return policies are an important aspect. A recent Baymard study shows that when customers’ anxieties surrounding the returns process are taken away, by providing them with the right information, increases the positive perception of the retailer as a whole. Customers want the returns process to be easy: with clear policies, return labels that are included in the shipment, an online return interface, AND the possibility to return products in a nearby brick-and-mortar store.

Why customers love returning in-store

As said, customers love to be able to return a product easily. For many customers, this means that returning in-store is a preferred option because of: 1. costs, 2. convenience, 3. faster refunds and 4. easier exchanges.


Many customers look at the costs when they order a product online, including the price of the product, shipping costs, and return costs. Many retailers ask for shipping costs when returning an item. However, when consumers have the option to return an item in-store, there are no shipping costs. The item could even be sold in the brick-and-mortar location, avoiding any additional costs for the retailer.


When a return location is close to the customer, it might be convenient to combine a casual shopping trip with making a return. Also, it saves the customer time to find out about return labels, going to the post-office, or making an appointment for a return pick-up.

Faster refunds

Most customers who return an item are seeking to get a refund for the item they initially bought. Bringing a product to a brick-and-mortar location and returning a product there, results in a faster refund than when shipping the product back to the seller.

Easier product exchange

In some cases, customers might want to exchange a product, for example when a product was ordered in the wrong size or when a product is broken. When a product is available in store, they might be able to exchange it for another item.

How to promote in-store returns

It’s good to remember that when users want to return an order, they are often already unhappy about their purchase. They wanted to have a certain item, but instead, need to spend more time to return it and get a refund. Therefore, it is important to make the returns process as easy as possible. As discussed, for some customers offering in-store returns is an important strategy to keep them satisfied.

Making return policies easy to find

As returning in-store is important, it is important that customers can easily find out about your return policies. Therefore, always make sure to present the return options in a clear, and easy to find, matter. Take a look at the following examples:

Styling in-store and return-by-mail options in a similar way

In an omnichannel environment having multiple return options, is key. Therefore it should be presented as an equal or even the preferred way for returns. for example take a look at H&M, who make it easy to find and read about their return policies

Promoting in-store returns in the return process

Another strategy that retailers offer, is having a returns interface. Within the interface, customers can notify the seller about the return. Wallmart presents the customer with two options once a return request is made. Wallmart offers two return options and is sure to tell customers about the benefits of both options, ensuring their customers know what to do (increasing customer satisfaction!).

Promoting in-store returns in the package

Stating your return policies online is a must. However, why not take the extra step away for the customer? Often, customers need to look up how to return an item online. When the policies are added to the original order, it might take away the anxiety of returning the item even quicker, again ensuring higher customer satisfaction.

Allowing in-store returns

In-store returns are an important part of the omnichannel strategy as it enhances customer satisfaction. However, implementing in-store strategies can be costly and time-consuming. However, with the right systems in place in store-returns (as well as shipments and pick-ups), bring benefits that will benefit your business and cut costs.

An omnichannel system

In order to allow in-store returns, a system needs to be in place that can handle orders, returns, and update inventory levels. A quick breakdown of a possible order/return workflow shows why:

  1. A product is ordered online in a retailers’ webshop. The order is registered in the system, and the inventory is updated. The product will be shipped from a local warehouse.
  2. The customer receives the order, a t-shirt, but realizes it is the wrong size. The customer looks for the return policies online, opens the portal and registers a return. The product will be returned to a nearby brick-and-mortar store.
  3. Upon the return request, a shop manager gets a notification. A return will come in this week.
  4. The customer arrives at the brick-and-mortar store. As the shop manager knows about this return, he inspects the item and approves the return. In the system, he also approves the return and refunds the customer directly to the customers’ bank account.
  5. The item, a t-shirt, is added to the inventory of the brick-and-mortar store. The inventory level of the shop changes in the system. The item is ready for sale again, without any extra costs.

Choosing the right system

Are you thinking of adding a return-in-store strategy for your business? Make sure to choose a system that allows for omni-channel strategies. Want to know more about the return in-store capabilities that Marello offers? Let us know, we’d be happy to provide you with a demo.

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