1) Introduction to eCommerce Returns in Singapore
There is hardly any eCommerce business today that doesn’t face the threat of returns. eCommerce in Singapore is no exception to this norm. Like in many other countries, returns in Singapore are commonly the result of product defects, unfulfilled expectations, and late deliveries.
This is why a business’ success in Singapore depends on how effective its returns policy is. An estimate found that almost 63% of consumers review a brand’s return policy before finalizing their purchase.
Before we specify the reasons and solutions to handle eCommerce returns in Singapore, wouldn't you like to understand the consumer behavior and eCommerce market there?
2) A Looking Glass at Singapore’s Economy:
Here are the primary factors that will influence your returns for Singapore:
2.1) Singapore’s prime consumers
The consumers of Singapore are digitally savvy, have high purchasing power, and love to shop online!
The millennial population makes up the largest proportion of online shoppers. Most consumers incline to shop online during sales and holidays.
Singapore consumers have the largest basket size in all of Southeast Asia. An average customer spends nearly $64 on a single transaction.
Undoubtedly, consumers in Singapore consider product quality rather than price. So if your product doesn’t meet their expectations, chances are you will get more returns.
2.2) Diversity in Singapore’s eCommerce industry:
The verticals that perform exceptionally well in eCommerce are- fashion, electronics and media, furniture and appliances, toys, and DIY hobbies. These are followed by food, cosmetics, and personal care.
There is a high demand for cross-border eCommerce in Singapore, but it does not overshadow the popularity of domestic brands and marketplaces.
Shoppee and Lazada are Singapore’s domestic eCommerce marketplaces that reign on the top, even bypassing Amazon.
A good majority of online shoppers prefer omnichannel retail solutions like choosing a product online and visiting the brand store to judge the product quality. Mobile commerce constitutes more than 60% of online shopping.
2.3) Popular eCommerce Payment Options:
The preferred modes of payment for online transactions remain credit and debit cards. Bank transfers and wallets are the second most popular methods.
Interestingly, only 1% of online shoppers in Singapore use cash on delivery option. This does not mean that eCommerce brands can ignore cash-on-delivery returns. So, it is best to have refunds that conform to people's payment options.
2) Why Do Customers in Singapore Return Orders Bought Online?
Singapore’s consumers fit with global shoppers' behavior regarding eCommerce returns. Most return cases are found in fashion, home appliances, and personal care sectors. There are also cases of unscrupulous tactics like bracketing. of returns in Singapore:
2.1) Issues with Items Bought
The fashion industry in eCommerce receives the highest rate of returns. Not surprisingly, the primary reason includes inaccuracies in size diagrams. While this is most prevalent in the apparel industry, other products like shoes and furniture are also prone to size errors.
Having size charts that customers are unfamiliar with and not providing enough details results in misinterpretation. A way to avoid this confusion is to use the sizing chart measurements that consumers understand. For example, some countries have inches as their standard size, while others use centimeters.
2.2) Damaged Products
Damaged product is the most common factor that prompts returns. It can be a manufacturing deformity. Products may be damaged due to mishandling during shipping.
Both of these scenarios are dangerous for brands. They account for high costs in replacing broken merchandise and losing customer loyalty.
In Singapore, where skepticism about buying a product online is still prevalent, damaged products can ruin a brand’s reputation forever.
2.3) Late Arrivals
Late arrivals are often shipping issues. However, it negatively affects customer satisfaction and expectations. Customers can return an item when they deem the product no longer needed.
Or they are compelled to purchase it in-store. Sometimes, customers may change their minds even when the item is delayed by a day or two.
2.4) Customer Dissatisfaction with Products
Numerous reasons evoke customer dissatisfaction. One simple reason is the customer no longer feels the need to have the product. Another valid reason is that the retailer shipped the wrong product.
This common occurrence can happen at any point during picking and packing. Another reason can be customers feel that the product is not worth its value.
Bracketing is a practice where a customer buys products intending to return them. You may have encountered consumers who buy the same product in multiple sizes or color bundles. They select some and return the rest that doesn’t suit them.
This is frequent in the fashion eCommerce industry and when retailers offer free shipping.
Wardrobing is a fraudulent practice that is surprisingly common in eCommerce. Here, a customer buys a product only to return it after using it for a short period. Wardrobing can happen with apparel, electronics, and even kitchen ceramics.
3) How to Reduce eCommerce Returns for Singapore
Now that you know the common factors for product returns, what can you do to reduce or avoid them? Here are some solutions:
3.1) Have a Flexible Returns Period Policy
A flexible returns policy is a hallmark of trust for all customers. Ideally, eCommerce brands define a return period taking into account customer convenience.
A return window of 30, 60, 90 days, or extended days for genuine requests gives time assurance to customers. A University of Texas Research verifies that an extended return window minimized the return rate for some U.S. brands.
3.2) Faster Delivery Times
Delivery times are a crucial factor when it comes to satisfying customers and avoiding returns. On-time deliveries will give customers fewer chances to abandon the product and trigger an RTO (Return to Origin). Similarly, fast return pick-ups allow customers to retain brand loyalty.
It also helps if the brand focuses on extra precautions like branded packaging and product safety. This provides an optimum delivery experience to customers and prevent returns.
3.3) Provide Accurate Product Information
An accurate product description can reduce returns from incorrect sizes and misaligned customer expectations. The best practice is to provide detailed information.
You can start with a detailed measurement chart with precise product dimensions. Often specifying details like the weight and materials used gives customers accurate information.
Given the uncertainty amongst older consumers in Singapore, providing comprehensive details will help them make an informed purchasing decision.
3.4) Offer Product Exchanges
If returns cannot be avoided, they can be optimized instead to exchanges. Though eCommerce brands have to carry some logistical costs here, they get paid in customer satisfaction and save brand image.
When customers get defective products, you can exchange them and send a replacement to earn more brownie points.
3.5) Omnichannel Returns Fulfillment
For Singapore, omnichannel returns are the best strategy, particularly for big eCommerce brands.
You give consumers a chance to choose their convenient time and place. In case you select a retail outlet, it increases their footfall and chances of cross-selling.
In Singapore, this method is especially effective since many consumers prefer in-store shopping.
4) Best Practices for Tackling eCommerce Returns in Singapore
4.1) Provide Images and Videos
While words can be heavy to the eyes, high-quality images and videos are not. Providing the right product images and videos lets customers scrutinize the product before making a purchase. Once consumers are assured of the product's quality, there are fewer chances of returns.
4.2) No Questions Asked Policy
Most customers expect a hassle-free returns policy. Customers expect little to no friction in returning an item that retains its original condition. Many eCommerce brands in Singapore, such as Zalora, Love, Bonito, and Zaful, already provide a no-questions-asked policy.
4.3) Rapid Refunds
The end goal of all customers returning a product is to have a timely refund. While the return process can bring out customer dissatisfaction, eCommerce brands can reverse this negative experience by refunding customers' money on time.
4.4) Use Returns Management Solutions
While customers expect an easy returns experience, eCommerce brands may face challenges in processing and fulfilling return orders on time. This is where returns management services and software help to automate the process.
Some solutions streamline returns processing, parcel tracking parcels, and carrier allocations. Some can monitor lockers where customers drop off parcels.
These solutions help brands fend off frauds, ensure product quality before accepting returns and smoothen reverse logistics. They allow you reduce or eliminate loss.
4.5) Seamless Returns Process
A seamless returns process automates all aspects of returns. Starting with a returns portal where customers can easily file a return request.
Then allocate a courier to pick up the parcel from the customer’s address or assign a convenient drop-off location.
The following steps involve real-time parcel tracking and notifications about refunds.
For the brand, it means easy returns label generations and placing return orders with a suitable carrier. Tackling issues that may arise en route also comes in this process.
5) Returns Management Services and Tools for Singapore
ClickPost is an integrated returns management solution that automates the reverse logistics process. ClickPost’s motto is to give your customers a seamless returns experience.
ClickPost creates branded returns portals with easy customizations. It allows you to set rules for returns and exchanges. Its AI engine automatically approves or declines return requests. Automation reduces the costs of operations and manual efforts.
Next, ClickPost’s AI also automatically allocates couriers for reverse pickup. This is usually based on your set preferences and their performance history in handling return requests for specific regions.
ClickPost generates Airway bills and return labels and sends pickup requests to courier companies. They solve failed pickup situations and inform you of SLA breaches. Meanwhile, ClickPost also monitors and manages pick-up exceptions by coordinating with customers.
Lastly, ClickPost tracks the return parcels in real-time across carriers to lower the chances of stuck inventory. ClickPost updates customers when each milestone is achieved. With ClickPost, brands can have their own branded tracking page promoting reselling.
5.2) Singapore Post
Singapore Post is the country’s postal service that has been operating for 160 years. Singapore Post is a well-equipped shipping service provider that handles reverse logistics. The company places both the customer and eCommerce brands on equal footing.
Singapore Post handles reverse logistics when customers drop off their parcels at the nearby post office. They assign returns slip to each parcel and give the customer and eCommerce brand a copy.
The parcels are scanned and processed when they head to the company’s headquarters. At courier agent then delivers the package to the retailer, and the latter acknowledges the receipt.
Recently, Singapore Post has installed POPStation for locker service with an easy barcode scanning feature in over 150 locations. With this, customers now get better convenience for returning their parcels and collecting new deliveries.
Janio’s returns management service is a well-planned program that tackles part of returns order placement. With Janio, you can schedule return pickups or drop-offs. Your customers get to choose a convenient option between the two.
Janio also automates the returns process. First, it handles customer return requests on the brand's behalf and accepts them. They also authenticate the return request by contacting the customer via SMS.
It enables customers to choose either a pickup or drop-off option. Janio automatically assigns a pick-up date and selects the drop-off location provided by customers to create a schedule.
It then sends confirmation emails to customers with the return labels and instructions to prepare the return parcel. The rest is the work of your chosen courier partner.
5.4) Oracle Netsuite
Oracle Netsuite is an all in all returns management solution that manages returns across multiple sales channels. They complete exchange orders, provide credit and assign warranty rules. There are three key features.
First is the RMA management, which enables you to receive and accept returns, and provides customer updates. Shipment tracking is also included in their RMA
Second is warranty management which allows eCommerce brands to set the rules for repair and warranty of products.
Third is customer refund management which automates the process of refund processing and supports multiple payment options for customers.
5.5) Parcel Perform
Parcel Perform is another returns management solution based out of Singapore. The eCommerce businesses integrate with multiple carriers in Singapore, including UPS, FedEx, and Singapore Post.
With Parcel Perform, you can process return requests automatically or manually confirm them. You can send return labels to customers, including paperless labels, or have them shipped with the carriers. You can also track the parcel and have a banded tracking page.
Customers get notified as soon as they are eligible to have refunds. Notifications are also issued for pick-up updates and repurchase purposes. Parcel Perform also provides detailed reports and customer feedback for analysis.
5.6) Return Prime
For Shopify merchants in Singapore, Return Prime is an excellent choice for managing returns. With Returns Prime, merchants can define their policy for returns and exchanges.
You can seek product photos for verification and automatically approve returns. Customers are notified via emails in multiple languages with returns labels as attachments.
Added benefits for merchants include providing multiple refund options, restricting returns for specific items, allowing customers to exchange items of their choice, and providing live chat support.
eCommerce returns in Singapore are unavoidable. So, an eCommerce business needs to evaluate its strategies and take proper steps to handle return requests. Undertaking optimal measures to avoid returns or making a convenient process for customers will take the eCommerce business to new heights.
7.1) What is the common returns policy for businesses in Singapore?
The most common returns policy in Singapore is a 30 days return window. Most brands present both return pick-ups and drop-offs as options.
7.2) What to do with the returned products?
Returned products can be restocked for selling as new items, refurbished to be sold as used items, or disposed of in cases where they cannot be resold.