Free returns? Only with added value for customers and retailers!

8th Nov 2022
2 minutes, 45 seconds
In the battle for customers, online retailers have to refer to the big marketplaces in many aspects. This applies in particular to the returns policy, where the customers consider Amazon & Co notably as customer-friendly.

According to the Sendcloud Delivery Compass 2021, 80% of online customers check whether a return is possible before making a purchase. Almost two thirds do not even order if the return is not free of charge for them.

Free returns are nothing else but marketing

It is obvious that free returns are - if at all - only free of charge for the customer. The online retailer pays the full costs even with impacts on his margin regardless of whether he sells on a marketplace or in his own shop. That is why he prices his return costs in advance in products and delivery conditions and thus involves his customers in them.

This makes it all the more important for retailers to develop a sustainable returns strategy. It is not enough to catch customers with the promise of free returns.

Instead, it is necessary to accompany the customer with his individual situation via an optimised customer journey. This means offering them the appropriate service to solve their “specific problem”. Many customers do not generally want to return goods, but are open to alternatives such as repair or compensation by discounts. Reduced costs and advantages in sustainability and customer relations result as positive effects.

The requirement for this is to know the customer deeply and to understand him in his respective situation.

Creating added value around products

Especially brands can create ample service offers that generate reliance to the customer and real benefits. You can achieve it perfectly with service offers that go far beyond a voluntary return.


This includes repair services beyond the warranty and guarantee period, access to certificates of authenticity and the possibility of resale via the dealer platform.

Convenience and transparency are the key components that build trust. If the dealer gives his customer access to his current warranty conditions for the product sold at any time, this creates customer loyalty. If the brand shows the customer that he can also access services such as repairs or extensions beyond the warranty period, this increases confidence.

The possibility of resale also creates benefits for both parties and meets ideas of sustainability.

Data generates benefits

If you firmly link warranty data and service offers as well as service history to the product and make it available to the customer at any time, the new owner gains all this with the resale and can now continue to benefit from it.

The same applies to certificates of authenticity. If you can call them up directly for the product, there is effective protection against plagiarism. Thereby you reduce sales losses due to plagiarism and save costs.

Such additional services give the product a higher value, which provides user benefits to both parties. The retailer gets long-term benefits from a lower total cost of ownership (TCO). At the same time, the convenience binds the customer and creates trust in the brand or retailer.

Finally, it is much more than free returns

The key is to create benefits. Then, and only then, do free returns actually become "free" through trade-off. The returns and customer service strategy thus becomes a profit centre. The basis for this is an integral platform for returns management, where all benefit data enriches the specific customer project. Further, both the customer and the retailer have access to it within the value chain.