5 Ways To Perfect Your E-Commerce Returns Experience

Nov 20, 2017

Offering return options can be a tedious and complex process to establish. But customers are demanding it and sometimes it even drives their initial buying decision. We want to help you to put yourself in their shoes and offer a few clues to help you figure out the best return solution:

Imagine having purchased something that didn’t quite meet your expectations. You visited the website again to process a refund, but after spending a great deal of time locating the store’s returns policy you were finally faced with a jargon-filled document detailing the tedious returns process you would need to go through.

Sounds frustrating, doesn’t it? Certainly not the kind of experience that will make you eager to make a second purchase from that store anytime soon.

Nevertheless, we know that the return is a critical component of the customer journey that supplies merchants with valuable opportunities to impress and delight customers and even encourage them to buy in the first place. A positive return experience can inspire loyalty and encourage frequent returning purchases.

According to a survey published this year, 95% of online shoppers surveyed said they would shop again with a retailer that provided a satisfactory return experience.

So in order to leverage the long-term benefits of providing a great return experience for online shoppers, you need to take the first step – implement a customer-centric returns policy. Statistics from a 2016 survey report by comScore have shown that 63% of online shoppers will review a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase.

So what constitutes a great returns policy?

Ease and convenience

Online shopping is increasingly popular because it is fast and convenient, and there should be no difference when it comes to sending those products back. Your returns policy should be easy to read with clear definitions of how your returns work, what can be returned, the return-by deadlines and return shipping fees (if any).

Many online shoppers also struggle to find the return policy on the merchant’s website. This is a common reason for cart abandonment and hence it is important that your returns policy be easily accessible throughout the buying process.

Free shipping for returns

Free returns shipping forms a crucial part of a consumer’s best return experience. 66% of the participants in comScore’s survey want free returns shipping while 3 in 10 online shoppers say paying for return shipping as their top issue when returning a product online.

‘No questions’ asked

Often, many customers chose to keep a product that they are dissatisfied with, and this is because it is a hassle to return an item without being probed too much into their reasons for making a return.

Automated returns

Does your website have an automated e-commerce return process? Online shoppers are less likely to opt for requesting a return via a phone call, text chat or email. Make sure you offer your customers a way to process returns from your website that allows them to generate a return shipping label. In addition, automate card refunds if you have the means to since customers will prefer to receive their money immediately after returning the item.

Re-engagement of customers who make returns

Returns create an opportunity for merchants to upsell additional merchandise as they ultimately end up back at your website to process the return. Use popups on your website and emails to offer special incentives such as discounts or store credits to encourage the shopper to buy something else.

45% of online shoppers made an additional purchase when processing a return on a website – a refund may possibly end up in a profitable exchange. Here, one additional service you can provide to your customers is a tracking option such as a tracking page or automated email notifications that will allow your customers to check up on the transaction themselves and be reassured that they are on the way to receiving the right product.

Not to forget, customer feedback offers valuable insights that will help you improve your business. By offering some small incentive to your customers in exchange for some feedback on the product(s) they want to return, or on their buying and returns experience, you might just entice them to visit your website again for another purchase.

Source: 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper

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