If you run an e-commerce company, product returns are an unavoidable part of your business.
Online shopping carries an inherent risk for your customers. They are buying items they won’t be able to see or touch until they receive the box in the mail. What if it doesn’t fit? What if the colour isn’t quite right? What if they simply don’t like it? Customers want to know that they can return or exchange unwanted items when shopping online, and they pay attention to e-commerce return policies.
Why You Need a Strategy for E-Commerce Returns
According to research from UPS:
- 66% of shoppers review a retailer’s return policy before making an online purchase
- 15% abandon a shopping cart when the return policy is unclear
- 50% are satisfied with the ease of making a return
A clear and comprehensive return policy instills confidence in your customers. It answers their questions and eases their worries, assuring them that your company values customer service and will manage their transactions professionally.
The way you coordinate returns from start to finish, a process that’s also called reverse logistics, can be a strategic advantage for your company. A well-executed approach will reduce the number of returns you receive, as well as the time and money you spend on managing them. And customers who have a positive experience with returns will be more willing to shop with you again, even if they weren’t satisfied with their initial purchase.
Tips for Managing E-Commerce Returns
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and try to identify their pain points while shopping online. What could prevent their need to return a purchase? If they do need to send something back, how can you streamline the shipment? Follow these three steps to deal with e-commerce returns seamlessly.
Communicate product info clearly.
Reduce returns by providing as much information as possible on each product. Include detailed product descriptions, accompanied by photos or videos that show the product from different angles. For clothing and shoes, post accurate size charts and product reviews that help customers make informed decisions.
Create an easy-to-understand return policy.
Write a simple, straightforward policy that outlines exactly how your company handles returns and exchanges. Don’t try to hide anything or trick your customer. Make it easy to find on your website, linking to it from areas like the main navigation, the shopping cart and the terms and conditions page. Include a hard copy of the policy in the product packaging.
Answer customers’ frequently asked questions, such as:
- Is there a time limit in which I can return a purchase?
- Can I return a product for any reason?
- Is return shipping free or for a fee?
- How do I prepare my returned items?
- What packaging do I need to use?
- Do I need to use a specific shipping company?
- When will I receive my refund or replacement product?
- How can I contact you if I have questions?
Plan for returns in packaging.
Simplify the returns process by providing reusable packaging for customers. Ship orders in mailers that have double adhesive strips for return shipments or boxes that can be easily repacked, along with step-by-step instructions. Or include self-addressed paper mailers in each order that are designed for returns.
A transparent return policy helps your e-commerce business operate more efficiently and provide a positive, hassle-free experience for your customers.