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Returnly’s New Service Helps DTC Brands Keep the Friction Out of Returns

Returnly, a company trying to take the friction out of e-commerce returns, debuted a new service last week that should make returning unwanted or ill-fitting holiday gifts a more painless experience.

With its Instant Gift Exchange program, Returnly will now allow retailers conducting business through the Shopify Plus commerce platform the option to let consumers shop for a replacement gift before they return the original product.

“We’re always looking for ways to provide the best experience possible to our customers,” said Chris Wichert, co-founder of made-in-Italy direct-to-consumer sneaker brand Koio, which recently implemented the service. “Offering instant gift exchanges through Returnly is yet another way we can improve customer satisfaction and provide a seamless experience for our users, whether they’re shopping for themselves or a loved one.”

Returnly said that digitally native and millennial-friendly brands like Outdoor Voices, Untuckit, Goorin Bros., Faherty Brand and Koio are among the first to use the program to reduce consumer stress around holiday gift-giving.

Returnly furnished evidence that consumers find the holiday shopping experience to be lacking. In a survey conducted by Pitney Bowes, 60 percent of shoppers voiced their dissatisfaction with holiday shopping—up 4 percent from last year and double what it was in 2015.

“We’ve heard from our customers that they love Returnly because it’s so easy and user friendly,” Jennifer Logiudice, director of customer service operations at Goorin Bros, added. “Our past return process was very manual, and our service tickets were 75 percent about returns. Since implementing Returnly we are down to about 5 percent. It’s been a game changer for our customers and for our customer service team.”

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Instant Gift Exchange is an opportunity for digitally native brands to “level the field” when it comes to returns, especially in apparel, where fit is so crucial to limiting returns, Returnly said. Simply adding the technology brings in new audiences and incentivizes incremental sales, almost as a novelty, the company added.

But there’s no novelty about the effect Instant Gift Exchange can have on repurchase rates among those who did choose to return a product during the program’s early adoption period. According to Returnly, consumers repurchased products following a return at three times the industry average when they were given the opportunity to do so under the program.

As the holiday season continues on, the company has warned against return volumes “three to four times higher” than average following Christmas. Retailers should take into account the additional overhead incurred by returns-related services like support call volume when considering their stance on gift exchanges, Returnly said.