Returning of goods is one of the most unpleasant aspects of online shopping. According to John Haber, the CEO of Spend Management Experts, few online stores like ‘women’s clothing brands and stores’ experience 30% return rates. The return policies of your brand can make or break your relationship with customers.
According to Jason Malinak, accountant at Colorado Springs, most online stores realize the importance of a solid return policy after bearing the loss of a ‘shipment gone wrong’. Modern customers are spoilt by online stores like Zappos that allows shopping goods to be returned for up to one year. Online stores like Kohl’s follow a return policy that says “No Questions Asked – Hassle free returns”. According to its terms, customers neither have a time limit nor the need to produce a receipt when returning goods.
If you are an ecommerce business holder and you are worried about the prospect of handling returns or keeping your customers happy, the following precautions can help you.
1. Prepare a return policy that is clear and comprehensive
Your ‘return policy description’ should at least detail on the process of making a return, how much time your customers can take before returning the items and what are the costs involved. Malinak advises ecommerce owners to compare the return policies of other online stores (dealing with similar products) and offer comparable terms.
He also advises against giving too many details in your description. According to him, one must tailor the terms of their business and must not depend on boilerplate language. He gives an example here. Ecommerce sites that sell customized or handmade products should limit their acceptable reasons for returning products.
If the colour of a product is the reason for making a return, you must not encourage it. On the other hand, an item that broke when being transported must qualify for a return.
2. Your customers must be able to make returns at ease
Haber points Reu La La, a merchant portal, as a standout example for online stores that have set painless return policies. If an item had to be returned, the store allows its customers to print a written label and return the goods back through the US Postal Service and in the same box that it actually arrived. Customers simply have to drop the goods by the mailbox, which means they do not even have to make a call for a scheduled pickup, as typically required by UPS and Fed Ex.
3. Give your customers alternative ways if possible
According to Hal Altman, the co-founder and president of Motivational Fulfillment & Logistic Services, it is crucial to reduce returns by fulfilling customer expectations. It will also reduce overselling the worth of a product or its performance.
In case of products that cannot be returned after its seal is broken or the product has been opened, like health drinks or vitamins, you can offer your customer a store credit instead of a return. This will help you maintain a great customer relationship.
4. Ensure all your employees are thorough with the return policies
Educate your workers, especially those who interact with customers more, on what your return policy is about. But let them be flexible at times. As recommended by Haber, you may want to have an approval process ready for special situations like a product being damaged during shipping or to favor a customer during unavoidable or unfortunate circumstances. You may approve expedited shipping in such cases. But remember expedited shipping can cost you more.
The world of business today has become highly competitive that even minor things can define the success level of your business. “Return Policy” – though this can be a frustrating thing to handle, is still an important feature of your business, especially if you are the owner of an online ecommerce store.