“Apple Inc has cut in half the time it takes to give refunds to online store customers who want to return their iPhones and other gadgets, a small but crucial step to try to get more people to buy direct from its website,” Christina Farr reports for Reuters.
“The move is a big upfront expense on Apple’s part, but could pay off in the long run if the company can lure online customers away from retailers such as Amazon.com Inc and Best Buy Inc, industry experts say,” Farr reports. “According to retail-intelligence firm StellaService, customers who buy a product from Apple’s online store can get a refund in under a week, versus 10 days previously.”
“StellaService researchers first noted the improvement in refund processing times in November, but chalked it up to a temporary measure for the busy holiday season. The company, which orders items from Apple’s website several times a day for research purposes, also discovered that packages were stamped with FedEx 2Day, rather than a Newgistics prepaid label,” Farr reports. “‘Speed is becoming a significant competitive weapon’ in the e-commerce wars, said Marc Wulfraat, president of MWPVL International, a logistics and supply chain consulting firm. But most e-commerce firms do not invest in making the returns process more efficient, as it does not serve the bottom line. ‘Returns are viewed as a hidden cost, so many e-commerce companies make the process very difficult,’ he added. ‘Returns are the first place to cut corners.'”
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