In an effort to increase sales and garner more return customers for its online store, tech giant Apple has revised its refund and return shipping procedures.
The new refund times have now been shortened by nearly 50%, taking between 5-7 days, compared to the previous 10 days. Apple is taking its customer care and relations seriously to rival other online retailers which sell their iProducts such as Amazon and Best Buy.
According to retail-intelligence firm StellaService, the new refined refund times could cost Apple in the short run, but given it can gear more return customers to purchase from Apple.com, it would pay off in the future.
The big A can now process refunds faster due to expedited FedEx 2Day shipping. Apple provides its customers with pre-paid labels to the main Apple warehouse and the product can arrive with 3 days at the latest.
Apple has shifted to FedEx from small parcel delivery firm Newgistics. FedEx’s 2Day shipping is pricier than what Newgistics offers, but Apple will not be adding any additional costs to customers.
“This is the first time we’re seeing an investment like this on the returns side,” said Kevon Hills, vice president of research at StellaService.
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In 2013 Apple experienced a 24% increase in sales through its online store. The jump in sales has put Apple in the No. 2 spot behind Amazon as the largest online retailer according to trade publication Internet Retailer.
“Speed is becoming a significant competitive weapon in the Ecommerc wars, but most Ecommerce firms don’t invest in making the returns process more efficient, as it doesn’t serve the bottom line,” stated Marc Wulfraat, president of MWPVL International, a logistics and supply chain consulting firm.
Amazon for example on occasion offers instant refunds prior to having the product returned. While this may result in higher customer satisfaction it can also cause additional fraud cases.
“Returns are viewed as a hidden cost, so many e-commerce companies make the process very difficult,” Wulfraat added. “Returns are the first place to cut corners.”