For many retailers, returns are a costly headache. But a growing number of eCommerce businesses are now designing the return process to maximise on a rare opportunity to connect with customers, and earn their loyalty.
45% of people surveyed would shop online more often if they were offered free and easy returns. Yet just over a fifth of retailers offer such terms in Australia; according to research by shipping software company, Temando.
Studies have even shown that prioritising a great and convenient return experience for customers not only benefits businesses in the short term, but can significantly increase their profits in the long run. It’s certainly one way to inspire confidence and build trust with customers.
And it makes sense. With the safety-net of a solid return policy, consumers are more willing to try something new or purchase from a retailer they aren’t familiar with.
Unfortunately, we still see many businesses doing the opposite. They are introducing fees, deadlines, and other terms and conditions that discourage customers from returning products.
“Stringent return policies tend to raise the risks for customers, they decrease consumers’ willingness to buy a product,” writes business journalist Matt Palmquist.
Rather than trying to minimise returns through strict policies, ecommerce businesses should see their policy as an opportunity to bond with customers and therefore increase sales.
91% of Australian consumers have returned an item siting the reason as ‘product was not as described’.
Given the inevitability of returns when running an ecommerce business, how your business handles returns and complaints is also an opportunity to improve your Net Promoter Score
(NPS) – a tool frequently used to gauge the loyalty of your customers.
A previous study found when such interactions (even negative ones!) are handled effectively and efficiently, they have favourable effects on customers’ future attitudes and behaviour — for example their willingness to refer the company to friends.
This sounds interesting but what should I do today…
Find a balance between what works for you and what works for your customer.
Have a look at how other retailers in your category are creating their returns policy. Remember to keep in mind the time it takes to get the product to and from the customer. 30 days is a common return window, and ParcelPoint makes dropping off returns super convenient for your customers.
Tailor your returns policy to your business
Large retail players in the market, such as ‘The Iconic’, anticipate a large portion of their product will be returned due to many factors like sizing and timing.
These brands expect a percentage of product will be sent back because of the way their consumers shop. Ahead of an event or a general shop, multiple sizes and styles may be purchased and tried on, and the ‘losers’ of the in-home change room experience are sent back via a free-seamless returns process.
As an added bonus, you can opt for a extra 10% in store credit instead of a cash refund.
It’s almost like they are incentivising returns?! They sort of are… understanding the consumer wants, pain points and making the experience relevant to that is what these guys have done well.
For eCommerce businesses who are not quite at this size yet, a third party logistics partner is the simplest way to handle customer returns; which would otherwise be a logistical nightmare.
Depending on your percentage of returns, Fulfilio can work with you to create a seamless customer return experience for your business.
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If your returns are giving you a headache, contact one of our friendly team members and have a chat about how Fulfilio can help your business grow.