Are Subscription Services the Future of Online Returns?

Talking bubble - where online return shipping is headed

Online shopping has seen a massive growth in popularity over the years. In fact, it’s estimated that ecommerce sales worldwide will reach $2.356 trillion by 2018. However, while consumers may prefer shopping in their pajamas from the comfort of home, the difficulty of returning items can serve as a limiting factor. The cost of shipping an item back to the vendor often offsets any cost savings that would have been achieved.

A new service called Return Saver aims to change all that. For an annual fee of $49, consumers can access unlimited returns at no cost. All they have to do is fill out a simple shipping return label form, attach a shipping label to the return package and then drop it off to be returned.

Return Saver, like many recent apps, exists to give consumers control over their online shopping and shipping experience.

By offering to pay for return shipping, Return Saver takes the pressure off of consumers, allowing them to shop without worrying about paying for returns. But as ideal as this solution sounds, there are still a few potential barriers to adoption.

The fee.

Some consumers may balk at paying $49 a year for the service, despite the fact that Return Saver allows membership to be canceled at any time. If a sufficient number of websites are offering free returns, a customer may feel that the extra fee is unnecessary, especially if those businesses provide services like printable shipping labels.

The impact on small businesses.

As Return Saver likely realizes most online retailers don’t offer free returns. It could be argued that Return Saver actually encourages returns, which can be a detriment to small businesses. After all, retail consultants say one-third of online purchases are returned, bringing a significant loss to a business’ profit.

The refund.

While Return Saver provides free return shipping, it does not guarantee that consumers will receive a refund or store credit for their returns. For that, consumers will “need to make sure [they] follow the retailer’s specific policy and procedures, including its deadlines, to qualify.” This could prove a barrier to adoption since certain products sold online are considered final sale.

Regardless, Return Saver represents one of many solutions developed to empower consumers, which is a growing trend in the ecommerce world. For frequent online shoppers, unlimited returns for $49 per year could be quite a bargain. For businesses, the service shows that convenient returns are a high priority on their customers’ lists.

For more insight, check out our ecommerce tips and trends page.

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