Don't Forget About Returns
Updated: Sep 9
As Brandon Batchelor, from Forbes Business Development Council, said, "Take it from me: I've been heavily involved in this industry for the better part of two decades. One of the most lamented grievances I've heard from nearly every e-tailer I've ever met was the returns process." He mentions that the most common complaints are costs involved with restocking items and the reverse logistics necessary, all while preserving your customer service model along the way.
Having a seamless return process is a fundamental part of maintaining your business. According to MultichannelMerchant, 73% of consumers say that the returns experience determines whether they'll buy from a merchant again in the future. On top of that, 68% of shoppers say that an e-tailer's return policy is integral to their customer experience. The best overarching tip for the returns process is to keep it simple and easy. Your customers are sure to return and sing your praises.
Top six tips to make the return process seamless for clients:
Most Returns are the Company's Fault
We hate to be the ones that break it to you, but these returns are probably your fault. Consumers make returns because the expectation did not meet reality. Digital Commerce 360 reports in 2019, the top reasons for returns are as followers:
34%-46% of the item was the wrong size, fit, or color
15%-21% of the item arrived damaged or was not functioning
12%-14% of the item was not as described
9%-10% of the consumer just did not like the item
7%-9% of the consumer changed their minds
Except for the 16%-19% of consumers who dislike or change their minds, other consumers report returning items due to company issues. In reality, companies should have better practices to reduce the possibility of returns from the get-go.
Customers Don't Want to Buy from Companies With Poor Return Policies.
If it is hard or impossible to return an item, you can bet that the customer will never choose to purchase from your business again. Think back to a personal time when a company "didn't accept returns," only accepted returns in-store, or only did exchanges instead of returns. Do you recall returning to this company? Not only that, do you tend to tell others to stay away from that company as well? If we had to bet, we'd say you can think of precisely the company. When companies make returns hard, you sign your company up for a disaster and a lack of company-wide success.
It's Not Just About Returns-- (Think About the Overall Buyer Journey!)
It is not just about the actual return process; it is about the overall buyer's journey. The last leg of the buyer's journey is checking in with the consumer, trying to sell to them again, or even offering specific promotions for them. Returns are all a part of that buyer's journey. PR Newswire reports that 67% of millennial shoppers abandon their shopping cart if they think it will not be easy to return the item. Ensuring the customer has a great experience from start to finish is crucial to a company's success.
#ShipTip: Touch base with customers after the return goes through to confirm that the return process was smooth and ask for feedback.
Frequent Returners are Valuable Customers.
Odd, but true. A study by the Journal of Marketing found that "retailers that offer free returns see customers spend up to 457% more than they did before initiating a free returns policy." Companies like Zappos receive their highest profit margins from serial returners because those customers buy high-end products. This is why it is essential to have a process that is convenient and seamless. People are putting their trust and dollars into your company. Treat them well, and they will treat you nicely in return.
Great Return Policy=Happy Customers (and Employees!)
It is not that hard to create a return policy. Similar to a shipping policy, a return policy outlines exactly how your company handles returns. It sets up an expectation for your consumers and your employees. When your employees understand the return policy, frontward and backward, you will likely keep consumers and employees happy. Remember, consumers will return items when their expectations don't meet reality. Keeping the shipping policy concise and easy to find is the best way to ensure happy customers.
Customers obviously find returns an important part of the shipping and customer service process. It's important to make it easy for the consumers. Companies have started to include a shipping label within the box of the initial delivery. This is a super easy way for customers to make returns and reduces friction in the process. The problem with this method is that companies don't want to pay for the label unless the product needs to be returned. With DesktopShipper you can print return labels and add them into the box and not pay for the label until it's processed. This method makes it easier for everyone all around.
Backward logistics are consuming and time-consuming but crucial. Having these policies in place is essential to ensuring company success. The best thing business owners can do is to make sure no one wants to return the product in the first place. Start with customer satisfaction and then build out your return policy from there.