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Aussie consumers want sustainable product returns approach
Wed, 27th Mar 2024

Almost half (46%) of Australian consumers would like to see a more sustainable approach to product returns, as highlighted by recent research from SAP Emarsys Customer Engagement. This study, which involved over 2,000 Australian shoppers, revealed an increasing demand for responsible practices regarding the return and recycling of items.

According to the findings, sustainability is becoming an increasingly important factor for Australian consumers with 18% of respondents prioritising it as their main consideration while shopping. Moreover, 47% of Australian consumers profess to being more loyal to brands that promote a sustainable returns process. This could involve strategies such as using less packaging or recycling returned items.

The research also highlighted consumers’ preference for retailers to implement sustainable solutions. Approximately 46% of those surveyed agreed that retailers could improve their sustainability by offering returned items at a lower resale price. Furthermore, nearly half (49%) of the respondents suggested that retailers could enhance their sustainability credentials by accepting returns at local depots.

However, the study also found that a majority of consumers would rather avoid the returns process altogether. Over two-thirds (69%) of the respondents stated they would prefer not to return items, while 56% said they wish retailers would 'get it right the first time'. This indicates that over half of Australian consumers do not want to deal with returns in the first instance.

Thomas Harris, Chief Revenue Officer at SAP Emarsys, emphasised the importance of sustainability for today's consumers, "Sustainability is no longer a nice to have for consumers, it's now a key consideration when deciding which brand to purchase from and it's something brands need to prioritise." Harris further suggested that tackling the causes of customer returns could be achieved through "AI-powered personalisation."

Continuing this line of thought, the press release related that AI-powered personalisation could be a transformative tool in customer service. By harnessing AI to develop deep consumer insights, businesses can offer tailored recommendations that more accurately cater to their customers' needs. Implementing this personalisation approach, using insights from customers' previous purchases and sizing data, could help consumers make suitable purchases the first time, thereby reducing the need for returns.

While focusing on returns, the research also highlighted that these are only one element of building customer loyalty. Businesses should also take broader approaches, including the use of personalisation as part of a comprehensive omnichannel strategy. The potential of such approaches is explored in SAP Emarsys' guide to the '7 Pillars of Personalisation.'