A solid returns strategy is more important than ever to ecommerce brands. Especially now in 2021 when every major ecommerce website such as Amazon offers free 30-day returns.
Get it right and you’ll have customers for life. Yet the slightest slip up will instantly push potential customers straight to your competitors. And yes, we’re fully aware that returns can be expensive. But guess what? Losing customers is even more expensive in the long run.
Returns are now a standard practice
As previously mentioned, it’s 2021 and returns are perfectly normal and standard nowadays. There is no such thing as an ecommerce website that doesn’t have at least a basic returns policy. Would you buy from a website knowing that there’s no way to return the product in case it doesn’t fit or you don’t like it? No, of course not. I wouldn’t either.
Younger generations need returns even more
The younger the consumer, the more likely they are to crave a quality returns experience.
According to a study made by Rebound in 2021, 60% of 18-25 year olds said that a negative returns experience had resulted in them not shopping with a retailer again. Compared to just 30% of people 65 and over:
People want more than reassuring wording and fancy promises in your returns policy. They want to know you’re able to consistently follow through on those promises without any complications
Returns drive repeat buyers
Returns go way beyond improving initial conversions among first-time buyers.
People see them as so important that they’re willing to stick with a ecommerce platforms providing a positive returns experience.
Returns are a great opportunity to get ahead of the competition
As a customer, would you buy from a website that offers a 7 day returns period or a 30 days return period, if the price of the product is the same? Of course you’d pick the website that offers 30 day returns.
According to yet another study made by Rebound, there is the huge gap between consumer desire and merchant supply when it comes to returns.
Do you know how many people expect free returns when making purchases online? 80%.
Do you know how many ecommerce platforms offer free returns and free shipping? 25%.
Can you spot the problem? This means that there’s a vast difference in what consumers want and what ecommerce companies are currently offering. And leaving your brand with an opportunity to get ahead of the pack if you act quickly.
While it would be amazing to be able to offer absolutely free returns with free shipping for the returned item included. However, it’s fine if you can’t do free shipping as well. The main point here is that you, as a seller, are already losing a bit of money by having a product returned to you. But if you also have to pay for return shipping, then you’ll have an even higher loss.
As such, while we recommend offering free returns with free return shipping, it’s perfectly fine to give your customers their money back for the products that they’ve returned, but make them pay for the return shipping.
Don’t stay in the dark about your returns. Ask why your customers want to return their items — their answers could point to missing or misleading product information on your website. This can help you make improvements to your e-commerce store.
Returns will inevitably come at a cost to your business, but with the right strategy and tools you can reduce their impact on your bottom line. It’s best to be prepared for them and invest in a strategy that creates efficiencies over the long haul. Plan for a cost for every item returned (and look for ways you can share that cost with your customer) and the initial cost of implementing your returns solution.
Product returns are typically seen as a necessary headache and a cost drain. But companies can use their return policies to enhance customer loyalty and increase profits. As you design your returns strategy, remember to consider all teams that are impacted by it. Your e-commerce, operations, marketing, customer support, and store network teams should all be aligned to ensure returns are processed smoothly.
Returns are becoming a more and more vital part of the ecommerce buying process. So you not only need to have a clear and attractive policy in place. You need to be able to consistently follow through on that policy.
But this isn’t as daunting as it might first seem. Work out a policy that aligns with your customers’ expectations. Then use a quality management software that can handle the returns process from every channel in one place.