Luxury & Loyalty: You had me at return.
Luxury: what’s it all about?
Oscar Wilde once said: “I am a man of simple tastes, I’m always satisfied with the best.”
He wasn’t wrong. When it comes to luxury retail, high-end brands want to give their customers the best experience, VIP treatment, to leave them feeling like they are part of an exclusive group.
Luxury doesn’t stop once a purchase is made
Most times an investment in “the best” – however – is limited to the main and initial interaction with the customer: the conversion or the engagement leading up to the purchase. Whether this is by accident or by design, the inevitability of a return at some point is not always taken into consideration, rendering the post-purchase experience into a lackluster and less than satisfactory event. In some cases, it may result in the customer looking elsewhere to find the holistic experience they crave.
Make no mistake: this is not a chicken-and-egg situation. Returns Management can and must be invested in as readily as any pre-purchase paradigm. Symphonies don’t end with a whisper. They end on a crescendo. If retailers neglect to provide VIP treatment to their customers as they return their items, these returns will reduce customer loyalty and result in the exit of these end-users to alternative brands. The measure of customer loyalty is not when they get the thrill of the purchase, it’s when they choose to make a new purchase despite having made a return.
The best for the best
A high-end returns management system is not just about making returns as easy as possible and providing free returns, (this should be the de facto standard for all sizes and shapes of customers). Software solutions – like OtailO – that cater to luxury products need to provide a multi-faceted paradigm that aims to convert returns into returning customers and thereby, to increase customer loyalty. This requires sophisticated orchestration and aggregation of many moving parts, or as we like to put simply, loads and loads of data. Let’s break it down.
Different strokes for different folks
The outcome of any return process should be tailored to the end-user. This means that the system you use should aggregate and parse data to understand multiple questions:
- Who is the end user?
- What is their history with the brand?
- Is this their first purchase?
- What is their average shopping cart size?
- Where do they live?
- Have they returned in the past?
- For what reason?
- What are they returning?
These types of questions are pivotal to create a meaningful flow that will be the ultimate returns experience for that particular VIP returner:
- Returners who want exchanges should get them.
- Returners who want an extended returns time frame should get them.
- Returners who prefer the in-store experiences, should get them.
- Returners who want the item but want it modified, refurbished, or fixed should have this post-purchase option.
So, while two shoppers may decide to return the same purchase, the workflow for these returns is likely to be completely different. The engagement and knowledge of each respective customer is different, and the incentivization for a new purchase is calculated based on the brand business logic and knowledge of who the customer is and what motivates him/her. VIP routes for VIP customers.
Quality & Authenticity
High-end brands are known for their quality and their differentiated style. Safeguarding this signature should be assured in real-time. This means that quality inspection and control is key to maintaining high standards no matter where the returns is, and at any point of its journey. Stellar returns management – like OtailO – must provide the vehicle to use multiple sources of data to assess the authenticity, condition, and quality of an item in real-time. The information, once aggregated and calculated, ensures that the ultimate route is proposed. This route will not only be optimal for the retailer and for the customer but will also proliferate omni-channel enablement wherever possible. The certification of returns ensures that no matter at what stage of its life cycle, the next best shelf for the return can be easily and clearly identified. So for instance, luxury brands are not apathetic to the winds of change and impact: a pre-loved route for a high-end item is as important as a regular return. End users may opt for a pre-owned luxury item provided that its authenticity can be assured.
It’s all about Loyalty
At the end of the day, the stakes are much higher for luxury brands. The relationship with the end-user must be nurtured closely and carefully. The key to successful and iterative conversion is loyalty. Returns management should not be seen as the cost of doing business, it should be chosen for its ability to engage and provide VIP customers with a high-end experience and the sense that it’s not the customer that’s loyal to the brand, but the brand that’s loyal to the customer.