So, you've just made the sale. Fantastic.
Now the customer is asking for a refund. What do you do? Returns are a normal part of the customer experience, sure. But the way you handle that part of their experience, can make or break your brand. In fact, 95% of online customers will purchase again from a seller who provides a good return or exchange experience, while 80% of shoppers are deterred by inconvenient exchange experiences.
At Interparcel, we work with businesses day in and day out - from the hand-made jewellery store just starting out to the manufacturing giant who pumps out thousands of products a day. We've asked our customers to put together a list of the top 10 tips for handling eCommerce returns like a pro.
1. Have a returns policy, located on the website
You're probably tempted to try and minimise returns by covering up all mention of them. It's important to understand that the average customer is aware that returns happen for a number of reasons. It could be an issue with sizing or they could have simply changed their mind. It's time to air out your dirty laundry. Be open with your customers, and in return they will learn to trust you. Trust is the difference between a one-time sale and a lifetime customer.
There are a few mandatory questions to answer in your returns policy:
- What is the procedure to return or exchange goods?
- Does the customer need to use your packaging or can they use their own?
- Who pays for the shipping - you or the customer?
- Is there a timeframe to exchange or return goods?
Include information about your returns policy in your "help" section
This one's pretty self-explanatory, but something that new business owners often forget about. Have you ever had to return something, for whatever reason, and couldn't find any information on how to return it? Pretty frustrating, huh?
This returns policy should cover the following basics:
- What items can be returned
- What products can't be returned
- What is the period that an item can be returned within
- What is the condition that the product must be returned in (unopened etc)
- What is the procedure to return a product
You want to include links to your policy in several key points including a separate page on its own. This includes your:
- Product pages
If you make your returns policy visible and accessible to your customers, it's less likely that they will be unsatisfied with their experience.
Use your returns policy as a sales tool
There are a couple ways to use your returns policy as a sales tool to drive conversions. You could use this as an opportunity to upsell or push a similar item to them when they ask for an exchange or a refund. If you're offering a money back guarantee, use your returns policy in your marketing assets as a lead magnet to your store.
Pay the cost of providing free return shipping
Ecommerce returns are already a major roadblock on the way to a smooth and satisfying customer experience, so by asking your customers to pay for return postage, you're just introducing more hassle and friction into the process. Studies have shown that 62% of consumers are frustrated when asked to pay for return postage and packaging. Not only does this promote customer loyalty and retention, but providing free return shipping can also be used as a psychological conversion strategy.
When it comes to online transactions, customers are already weary of products that they cannot see, touch or smell in-person. Providing free return shipping, gives customers peace of mind when purchasing a product. You're letting them know that if they make a mistake, they have the ability to quickly correct it. It's become an expected feature of many online stores. In fact, a National Retail Federation Study has found that 59% of retailers currently offer free return shipping.
Provide pre-printed return labels
As counterproductive as it sounds, you want to make returns as convenient as possible. The last thing you want is to stretch out a returns process for an already disgruntled customer. Return labels are typically created with shipping software at the post office, an office supply store or at your home. You need to follow three basic steps to generating a return label on your own:
- Choose a shipping carrier and service
- Enter the business's return address
- Pay to cover the cost of returning the item
Pre-printing return labels and including them in all your outbound packages will:
- Save your customers time and effort having to print and attach their own
- Saves you on shipping fees, as you can select the lowest cost mail option
- Ensures the package is returned properly