Admittedly in today’s world, customers are far too well connected and informed, granting them a number of options for bargain hunting than ever before. 'Power to the people', 'The sky's the limit', these mantras of the 20th century awards consumers a disproportionate amount of security and power (amongst other demands) that convoys the expectation to return any product they deem to be 'unfit’.
Managing product returns is complex enough in a traditional retail store. Handling returns for e-commerce purchases can be even more daunting. Follow these recommended practices and get your ducks in a row, you’ll knock returns out the park.
Shut the front door statistics.
Sadly, ship does happen. Make the mistakes and master the process. Annoyingly, shoes and jeans that customers buy, sometimes just won't fit. Even though they look totally convincing on the model. I mean, how dare they.
Instances like this occur through the marriage of image deception and the e-commerce industry prematurely trying to fit into it’s only-fitting jeans. Just how premature one questions? E-commerce return rate statistics are proven to be exceptionally high:
• 48% of online shoppers said they returned an online order in the last 12 months.
• 40% of retailers say they have adjusted their return policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Between 15% and 40% of online purchases end up returned.
• In 2020, 44% of consumers said they were more careful about what they buy so they wouldn’t have to think about returns.
• 73% of shoppers say the overall returns experience affects their likelihood to purchase from a retailer again.
Team consumer or Team retailer
Neutral Switzerland, that's where you want to be. A place where the grass is green on both sides, the place that benefits both customers and business. The last thing you want is to create a return process so tricky that you become boycotted.
It’s basic business acumen, give the people what they want, ‘happy wife, happy life’. Not having a proper return policy/procedure can intimidate customer loyalty which will endanger the survival and mere existence of your business.
The point of all return
First, let's understand what makes the customer return the products to create a perfect return policy. So what was wrong to begin with? The usual suspects; wrong item/size/colour. Or perhaps, just a 'cheeky chappy' who bought it, to wear it once, with full intentions of returning it.
Anyway, we digress. Some commonalities for returns:
• Damaged Goods
• Mis-Delivered or Undelivered Goods
• Malfunctioning Goods
• Gift Returns
• Inaccurate Description
• Changed Mind
With your margins undergoing regular exercise of directional ‘squeezing’, returns are quite 2nd day muscle ache that needs tending to. Yes customers expectations in the world of online shopping are sky-scraping high, and so they should be. Their experience is our success.
Consider how fickle the human brain is, they could switch to a competitor’s site just like that..
The cost of processing, refunding, and potentially disposing of goods means that the business owners are breaking their bank. It would be best if you accounted for all variables when it comes to profitability. While it might cost your company money to offer free returns, doing so could, in turn, boost your sales. Studies have shown that customers are more likely to make a large purchase online if free returns are offered. So, just do it!
A happy-go-lucky return policy
Without a proper system, return requests can eat up a lot of time, energy, and money, with hours spent on customer service emails, calls and spikes in shipping expenses for replacement products. Feeling a lot like this..
On a positive note, it’s never too late to address the problem. With a great return policy and the right system in place, returns and exchanges can be transformed from the ‘do we really have to do this’ aspect of commerce into an opportunity that actually generates new profits for business and increases customer allegiance.