1) eCommerce Trends in Saudi Arabia
eCommerce trends differ by region or country when it comes to purchase behaviours and returns. Socio-demographic parameters often contribute significantly to this phenomenon.
In the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia (KSA), eCommerce is predicted to spike steadily over the next few years. In 2021, almost 70% of Saudi Arabian residents purchased a product online. This degree of online penetration is a clear indicator of market saturation.
Fashion, apparel, and electronics top the revenue charts at 32% each. Food, supplements and personal care follow them at 21% and toys and DIY at 10%. eCommerce purchases of furniture and appliances contribute towards the remaining 5%.
Almost 80% of eCommerce shoppers are happy with their shopping experience. But 40% of customers return their product because they don’t want it anymore. Over 59% of eCommerce purchases are made by non-Arab immigrants, with three times as many male users as women.
Let’s look at factors contributing to eCommerce returns in Saudi Arabia.
2) Catalysts Driving eCommerce Returns in Saudi Arabia
In the Kingdom of Saudi Rabia, slose to 65% of eCommerce returns are due to a fault from the merchant’s side. Almost 20% of products purchased online are returned as they arrived damaged or faulty. A little more than 40% are returned either because the shoppers received a different product or it appeared to be different from the one seen online.
2.1) Consumer Behaviour
Shoppers often buy multiple sizes or products to try at home and return the ones they do not wish to retain. The proliferation of products that are available online is partly to blame for this practice.
Sometimes, they may return items just because they changed their mind. By engaging in this behaviour, shoppers take advantage of the free returns policy and the eCommerce brand’s goodwill.
2.2) Consumer Focussed Return Policies
Many aspects of return policies are consumer focussed. So much so that reckless purchases have become the norm. With extended deadlines, full refunds and free returns, it is no wonder that eCommerce sees high returns.
Of course, we cannot place the blame entirely at the feet of eCommerce brands. Best practices of eCommerce return policies worldwide recommend offering these amenities to nurture customer loyalty and satisfaction.
2.3) Delayed Deliveries
Delayed deliveries can be upsetting. Especially considering that most people shop for special occasions and time-sensitive events online. They prefer purchasing from eCommerce stores to avail of the hefty year-round discounts.
Deliveries are wholly the seller’s responsibility. Vendors often make the mistake of putting shorter delivery dates in order to push sales. However, delayed deliveries result in angry customers and returns.
2.4) Wrong Item Received
When consumers receive the wrong product, it is often a result of poor stock keeping and warehousing. Consumers usually take time to pore through eCommerce marketplaces and stores to make their purchase decisions.
Anticipation continues to mount while they await their packages. All that excitement can switch in an instant to annoyance when they notice they were sent the wrong item. After the long wait for their goods, they move to place requests for return in a matter of seconds.
2.5) Item Looks Different
eCommerce stores have a terrible habit of using stock images. They are also guilty of retouching their pictures to a large degree. So much so that their product barely resembles the photo they post online.
Any significant difference in colour, dimension or material that is immediately noticeable is a cause for concern. When consumers receive products that look nothing like the one online, they are bound to return them.
2.6) Damaged or Faulty
Shoppers may often receive faulty or damaged products. This can essentially be due to poor warehousing and associated activities. It can also be due to insufficient packaging and transportation.
Customers have no use for products that do not function as promised. When they receive such items, they are more than likely to request for returns and refunds.
3) Saudi Arabia’s Recent Laws Regulating eCommerce Returns
KSA’s new regulations are designed to improve the shopper’s confidence in online transactions and increase eCommerce activity. They also aim to protect customers against misinformation and fraud.
3.1) Consumer Right to Pursue Returns
Recent law amendments by the Ministry of Commerce & Investment dictate when a consumer has the right to pursue returns. The customer may place a return request for a refund within 7 days of receipt.
But, the customer should not have used the product or services provided by the vendor. If they have benefitted from the services or products, they may have to bear the costs associated with the returns and restocking.
3.2) Delay in Delivery of Goods or Services
Usually, the vendor promises a period within which they will deliver the goods. However, a delay can result in returns unless mutually agreed upon or caused by socio-political events.
According to the eCommerce laws in KSA, a shopper can rightfully cancel any purchase when the delay exceeds 15 days. The shopper is also eligible to receive compensation for the delay as well as a refund for the product.
In 2021 an eCommerce store that sells products imported from China was ordered to refund a little over 500,000 riyals. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce gave this ruling after receiving over 700 complaints about delayed deliveries.
4) Exceptions That Can Make eCommerce Returns Ineligible in Saudi Arabia
Listed below are the exceptions wherein the standard rules of eCommerce return requests in Saudi Arabia do not apply. This is unless the product is defective or has the wrong specification. In these cases, shoppers may return them.
4.1) Custom Made
Products that are bespoke, with specifications on construction, dimension and composition from the customer may not be returned.
4.2) Video Tapes or Digital
Video tapes or digital content products are ineligible for return.
Newspapers, magazines or books are ineligible for return.
4.4) Consumer’s Misuse
If the consumer’s use of the product has rendered it defective, the product is not eligible for return.
4.5) Accommodation or Transportation
Transportation, catering or accommodation services cannot be returned as the consumer would have benefitted from the services.
Products and services that are downloaded from the internet are ineligible for return.
4.7) Cannot be Resold
Products that are bundled and cannot be separated and products that cannot be resold due to safety reasons cannot be returned.
4.8) Price Fluctuation of Product
Any product, such as gold or silver jewellery, whose price may fluctuate in the interim may not be returned.
5) How Can Businesses in Saudi Arabia Reduce Their eCommerce Returns Rates
It takes very little for customers to be satisfied with their purchases. With tiny tweaks, eCommerce businesses in Saudi Arabia can easily cut down on their returns.
5.1) Timely Delivery
Deliver as promised. Timely delivery is crucial to customer satisfaction. Delayed deliveries may not be entertained unless there are extenuating circumstances.
5.2) Product Quality
Ensure that the quality of your product is at least in line with the cost, if not a steal for the price. If possible, always try to offer a shopper value for money.
5.3) Accurate Images & Description
Detailed descriptions and visual content help a consumer understand what they are purchasing. This is a strong driver when it comes to eCommerce returns.
5.4) Size Charts
Offer comparative size charts or detailed dimensions as and when required. Since consumers depend on the information you provide to make their purchases, ensure they are as clear as possible.
5.5) Virtual Trial
eCommerce businesses for whom virtual trials are relevant and possible should offer this facility in their online store. Although it is definitely not the same as a full-blown trial, this feature does somewhat help.
5.6) Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is great for most product categories. It allows a shopper to see how the product looks in their environment or on themselves based on scanning and 3d image placement.
5.7) Ample Packaging
Ample packaging is a must to ensure businesses aren’t flooded with return requests owing to products damaged in transit. This is especially crucial, considering the shipment may pass through several warehouses and logistics providers to reach the consumer.
5.8) Effective Stockkeeping
Effective stock-keeping has a core of good organization practices and quality assessment. Inventory needs to be regularly checked and carded for defective products. The remaining needs to be categorized appropriately.
6) How Can ClickPost Help Businesses in Saudi Arabia With eCommerce Returns
An AI returns management software, ClickPost integrates seamlessly with your eCommerce returns portal. It uses automation to complete the tasks in this leg of your operations.
ClickPost resolves returns requests within minutes based on their eligibility, as outlined in your returns policy. It cuts down the processing time to mere seconds and moves swiftly to work through the requests.
It functions according to preset rules and makes judicious decisions based on performance and relevant data. For example, it will consider all the parameters you have assigned while choosing a shipping partner for returns. Based on how the logistics providers rank, ClickPost will pick the best one.
There have been reported cases of fraudulent pick-up attempts when it comes to returns. ClickPost auto-intervenes to solve such issues, removing the cumbersome tasks of communication and follow-up. It acts as a liaison between the pick-up partner and the customer. It relays any updates or clarifications between the two and ensures successful pick-up.
ClickPost takes over the three consuming aspects of returns operations. By doing this, it makes returns a hassle-free experience for businesses based in Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom of Saudia Arabia’s eCommerce returns laws are consumer-friendly. However, they also have exceptions in place to protect businesses from fraudulent or excessive returns.
It is fairly simple to reduce return rates across most product categories. All it takes is a few simple tweaks to your operations and how you present your product online.
Honesty and transparency are crucial when describing the product and its functionality. They are equally important when promising consumers delivery dates.
Technology is a globally acknowledged best practice to aid your product presentation and marketing. In addition, adding the power of automation to returns operations will make it manageable and improve it for the better.
1) What is the time period for returns in Saudi Arabia?
The time period for eCommerce returns in Saudi Arabia varies from vendor to vendor. However, the Ministry of Commerce has mandated a minimum 7 day window in case of faulty or defective products.
2) Can I return a customized product in Saudi Arabia?
As per eCommerce laws in KSA, a supplier is not required to accept customized products unless it is faulty or of the wrong dimensions.