OPERATIONS

This is why so many non-defective consumer electronics products are returned

BY Marianne Wilson

Consumers return billions of dollars worth of non-defective consumer electronics products annually, creating a major — and costly— pain point for retailers and electronic brands.

Forty-one percent of consumers returned a non-defective item in the last 12 months, contributing to more than $17 billion in lost revenue annually for store and online retailers, according to a survey by TechSee, which delivers visual customer assistance powered by AI and augmented reality. And 65% of respondents decide to return non-defective electronics early on, citing frustration and/or confusion during product unboxing/unpackaging, installation, and first use.

Consumer returns of non-defective electronic devices is pervasive. Accenture reports that 68% of all consumer electronics (CE) returns fall under the umbrella of no fault found (NFF), situations when an item is returned needlessly.

Fifty-four percent of consumers in the TechSee survey agreed that they would return a product if they found it difficult to install, while nearly 70% said they would also return it if they found it difficult to operate, suggesting customer support is a critical component in lowering no-fault-found (NFF) returns. In fact, 72% of those polled stated good customer service would dissuade them from returning a product.

Many participants expressing a propensity to return product also stated they had never seen or interacted with the product – physically or virtually via video or augmented reality – prior to purchasing. Only 16% had the ability to “try before they buy.”

Consumers most often returned small home appliances, such as blenders and coffee machines (28.5%) followed by entertainment products, including speakers, TVs, and gaming consoles (25.2%); small gadgets (20.3%); phones and tablets (15%); major utility appliances, such as washing machines and refrigerators (5.7%; and home office products (4.8%).

The survey found that viewing product manuals and still images during unpackaging, installation, and first use was not enough to prevent a return. Only 23% of consumers reported that an image, such as a product manual picture, would deter them from returning the product. Rather, most expressed a preference for live video with an expert (44.4%).

“The main conclusions from the study are that many NFF returns can be avoided altogether by offering highly visual interaction channels prior to purchase and with high-quality, visual customer assistance post-purchase, especially during unboxing and installation,” said Eitan Cohen, CEO of TechSee.

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S.Ali says:
May-10-2019 11:05 am

Part of the problem is that OEMs are a hyper fragmented bunch. This is why there isn't a "standard" for how products are given to customers (other than "include a manual and a registration card") - and as a result, why there is such low engagement post-purchase. Which is unfortunate, because the OEMs spend millions on developing content that they hide on their own website. A customer engagement platform that *any* OEM could use to share that content with buyers of their products would solve this problem.

A.Brouwer says:
May-09-2019 10:00 am

The initial problem all too often derives from poor design decisions - thus requiring complex installation and user directions. It becomes an even larger problem for infrequently used devices of any kind.

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