Here at the Wise Marketer, our mantra is that a successful marketing strategy places all marketing in service of building sustainable, long-term customer relationships. Doing so requires customer insight; over time, retailers have learned that transactional data is now the floor, rather than the ceiling, of data available to fuel that insight. For example: Over at Entrepreneur, contributor Peter Sobotta provides a primer on how e-commerce retailers can leverage returns data to build stronger customer relationships.
Sobotta's article is helpful if too short. He opens with a few eye-opening stats: one-in-three online purchases are returned; for online apparel purchases the return rate can reach 40%. Sobotta then reminds us that failing to capture and then leverage the wealth of data available through customer returns can be a dramatic missed opportunity for e-retailers. Money quote:
"Returns represent an untapped opportunity to build customer relationships with high lifetime value... Segmenting customers and comparing their behaviors to returns data helps retailers identify high-value customers who will spend far more than they return. Retailers can choose to market differently to this group, including offering more liberal returns rules."
Indeed, returns are just one stop on the customer journey; loyalty marketers can now collect and act upon data at every stage of that journey, from awareness to research, through purchase, post-purchase, and at every customer service touchpoints. The key is to link that data at the level of the individual customer to capture a full customer view that drives your segmentation strategy. These practices aren't limited to e-retailers, either; brick-and-mortar retailers can now link in-store to online and mobile data to capture a 360-degree view of customer behavior. Returns data is certainly an under-utilized asset - Sobotta provides a useful reminder of its value.
Read Sobotta's article here.