Oliver cooks. He loves to make one-pot wonders that serve-up specialities in numerous portions. Curries, stews and casseroles for days. It’s cheaper that way.
His concoctions often require elaborate spice blends ground to fine powders. Fed up with clumsily hitting tea towels with rolling pins, he at last buys a pestle & mortar and pays extra for express delivery.
Next day, Oliver inspects his porcelain purchase. Smaller than a satsuma, it’s barely big enough to grind a single peppercorn. He pleads, ‘Who the hell makes ornamental kitchen tools? Who the hell buys ornamental kitchen tools?’
Remembering the recent hassle of returning some ‘too tight’ jeans—printing return labels at his brother’s house then trekking to a distant drop off point—he resolves himself to keeping the pestle and places it on the shelf between the copper clock and The Encyclopedia Britannica.
Then he orders a new one, this time making sure to double-check its size: large.
When Laura his girlfriend gets home they laugh about it.
‘But why don’t we return it? How much was it?’ she urges.
‘Not cheap! But I can’t be bothered to go through all that messing around of printing labels and finding the courier place.’
‘You don’t have to. It’s easy. Look.’ She takes his phone, notifies the retailer on WhatsApp, punches in his order number and receives a QR code to show to the Post Office.
Oliver nips to the Post Office on his lunch break the next day. Within an hour his return is being tracked. Within a day his payment has been refunded. And within a week his latest Tikka Masala is making the rounds at the office.
Far from turning online purchases pear-shaped, returns can be as easy as pie. In fact, today’s consumers seek it and tomorrow’s will expect it. By conducting customer care in favourite messaging apps and replacing paperwork with Quick Response Codes, retailers can offer returns mechanisms that are so quick and simple, they can actually be promoted as selling points.