Best Practices to Handle and Reduce eCommerce Product Returns

Who doesn’t love an excellent return policy? So tell me something. What have you done to differentiate your company from the competition? You may say, you have an exceptional product range and excellent customer service, but how about the returns policy? These are the small things that make a huge difference. How are your return policies? Are they working with you or working against you?

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself, if you would deal with a company that will not take back a product or has poor return policies? I am pretty sure of the answer to that question, and still, let me spell it out to you; no one likes to deal with unfavorable return policies. We all want flexibility in choosing and returning goods. Then, let us work towards creating a great customer experience by providing them impressive return policies.

Be as liberal as possible with your returns policy. Return windows are becoming more important to consumers, and they have an increasingly large choice of places to buy.” Rieva Lesonsky, CEO GrowBizMedia &SmallBizDaily.com

Key Statistics about Return Policies

Free Shipping: Nearly 49% of retailers offer free return shipping policies

Repeat Customers: Roughly 92% of customers will buy again given easy return policies

Check Policy: Nearly 67% of customers check the return policies before placing an order

Any Questions: Approximately 58% of customers prefer “No Question Asked” return policies

With these facts and figures, we can conclude that customers definitely believe in shopping with an easy return policy company. Not only that, they will order again if the return policies are flexible and accommodating in nature. 

You have to understand, unlike retail markets or brick and mortar stores, customers do not have the privilege to see and try your products physically, nor can they make purchases after interacting with your sales staff. It is a complete virtual shopping experience. Thus, if the customer trusts you enough by shopping with you without seeing or trying your product, you owe it to them to provide at least an easygoing return policy.

Best Practices to Handle and Reduce your eCommerce Returns

Now that we have understood the statistics and importance of a good online shopping return policy, most of your returns can be handled and reduced by having a great returns policy in place. So, let us learn what can be done for a better return policy experience.

  • Make Convenient Return Policies

When shopping online, customers of all age groups will opt to purchase, but very few of them will be able to handle returns. Thus, make your policies flexible for everyone to understand and follow. This will set you apart from your competitors. One of the few ways you can provide to make this possible is ‘Go Omnichannel’. Provide the option to return online via shipping or in-store returns. One of the best examples of omnichannel returns policy is Oasis, a Fashion Retail Brand.

Convenient Return Policies

Image Courtesy: bigcommerce

  • Clear and Transparent Return Policy

It is essential to have an evident policy. Do not try to trick your customers by hiding a few policies; instead, layout all the points of your returns policy and terms and conditions for a better customer experience. Everyone likes transparency. So always talk to them or convey your message very clearly through your policy. 

Clear and Transparent Return Policy

Image Courtesy: bigcommerce

  • Visibility in Finding Returns Policy

No matter how clear your policy is, it will not do any good if they are not visible. According to the statistics mentioned above, nearly 67% of customers read the returns policy before placing an order. So make sure your return policies are very easy to find. This indeed makes a customer quickly purchase the product.

  • Provide FAQS and Answers Questions

There are times when customers still have a doubt about your returns policy. In this case, always fill up your FAQs appropriately and cover as many points as possible. Customers also ask questions in times of uncertainty about the policy. Make sure to be proactive in approach and give a quick response to any of their queries. Examples of some of the FAQs are:

  1. I have opened the packing and it is not what I had ordered, can I still return the product?
  2. What is the timeline for returns? Will you accept my returns if the timeline has exceeded?
  3. Will I get a refund or exchange when I return this product?

There are many more FAQs and you can go through them here.

  • Mention Deadlines and ‘Last Date to Return’

Be very clear in your message. Do not play around with your words and very clearly mention the timeframe or deadline for any returns. You can mention a ‘30-day return policy’, this one line attracts many customers and sure does help increase sales. Or you can set a predefined time frame and say, we accept returns from ‘January 5, 2021 – January 15, 2021, or within one week of placing an order. This way, customers know what to expect and they can take action accordingly. In the long run, it will help to provide a better customer experience.

Mention Deadlines and ‘Last Date to Return’

Image Courtesy: bigcommerce

  • Offer Free Return Shipping

Amazon surely is the best example of free shipping on returns. They do not charge their  customers for returns. When you do so, customers start showing confidence in your company and, for sure, returns back for another order. Yes, free shipping is a challenge, but it attracts customers and increases your goodwill. According to a survey, 79% of customers want free shipping on returns. Also, you can increase sales by offering easy and free return shipping. For example,

‘Get free shipping on orders above $ 100’ or ‘Buy another product along with this to avail free return shipping.’

Offer Free Return Shipping

Image Courtesy: bigcommerce

  • Provide ‘Return Status’ Tab to Track Returns

What comes after returning a product? How will your customer know the status of your returns? Well, that is why you should always offer a ‘Track your Returns’ or ‘Check Return Status’, so that the customers can easily track their returns and take further necessary actions like Reorder. Tracking the returns is an efficient way to handle the eCommerce returns.

Provide ‘Return Status’ Tab to Track Returns

Image Courtesy: bigcommerce

  • Offer Exchanges and Refunds Both

Always offer both the alternatives to the customers. Yes, it is a risk that the customer may opt for a refund, but if the customer is in dire need of the product, they will definitely go for exchange. Also, you can try avoiding the refund by providing them products at a discounted rate. For example,

‘We noticed that you returned our product. We are sorry that you had to return, let us make this right for you. Buy any product by using discount code ‘EasyReturns’ to avail discount on your next purchase. Offer valid till January 15, 2021.’

“It’s important to keep your returns and refunds policies simple. Customers do not want to jump through hoops if something doesn’t work out for them. It should be just as easy to return an item or get a refund, as it was to purchase.” Vladimir Gendelman, Founder and CEO, Printwand

This policy will help you handle the returns in an immensely customer-friendly manner. 

Offer Exchanges and Refunds Both

Image Courtesy: bigcommerce

  • Offer Extended Returns on Circumstances

There are times when customers miss the deadline. They may call you and request an extension. Do get in touch with them and understand their problem, it may be a genuine reason. This happens mostly during festive seasons. Also, if a customer genuinely forgot the deadline. So get in touch with them and offer an extension instead of forcefully making them keep your product. Understand, it will be lying around in their house aimlessly instead if you provide an extension you will gain a customer. Infact, a very pleased and grateful customer.

  • Always Mention ‘Reason of Return’

One of the key pointers that will help reduce eCommerce returns is by asking the reason for returns. Make sure to add a tab where they can mention the reason. This way, you are always aware and can rectify the situation for the next time. If the quality is bad, you can work towards offering better quality products. If the product is not the same as the picture, check your product listing and rectify the pictures. This way, each and every reason will help you get better.

Always Mention ‘Reason of Return’

Image Courtesy: NDTV Gadgets

Best Company Example of a Great Return Policy

We have covered a lot of practices to create an exceptionally great experience for a customer’s return process. But when talking about the best practices, how can we forget real-life companies that are offering great returns policy! Let’s have a look at some of them.

  • IKEA

IKEA offers 365 days return policy. Yes, you heard it right! Even if the product has been assembled and for some reason, you want to return it, you can! Also, they provide in-store exchanges as well. 

IKEA

Image Courtesy: IKEA

  • Zappos

Zappos is a leading shoe and apparel online store as well as retailer. They offer 365 days return policy as long as the product is unworn and with original packing. So, if you bought a pair of shoes from them and could never use it, worry not, they will take them back!

Zappos

Image Courtesy: Zappos

  • Bath and Body Works

Bath and Body Works has a significant online presence and along with that, they offer lucrative deals and returns policy. They will take back any product if they are unused or even if it is slightly used. All they need in return is proof of purchase. And even then, they offer returns if you don’t have a receipt based on the situation.

Bath and Body Works

Image Courtesy: Bath and Body Works

Conclusion

A simple, attractive, and transparent returns policy works wonders for a company. Don’t look at the word ‘return’ as a negative expression but instead, look at it as a means of attracting customers. Find innovative ways to resolve the returns experience for your customer, they purchased from you once, for sure, they will do it again. Just make sure you give them a sound return experience. eCommerce automation will help you make this process simpler and all you have to do is add triggers to send messages or emails or even schedule pickups. Though it is a returns process, you sure can make it fun by using eCommerce automation.

References

Ankita Bora
WRITTEN BY

Ankita Bora

I write to express and believe that words are powerful. Long drives and traveling are my weekend goals. I write poems when I am happy and enjoy a solo outing. My mind works best when I am by myself at a cafe with a tall glass of cold coffee and sandwiches. I dance in the rain and heat never bothers me. For me, winters are the worst! I laugh when I cry and bring a smile to everyone close to me. Content Writer at Orderhive, I present knowledge on technical aspects on weekdays and on weekends I write for myself.

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