Returns get a lot of coverage in the e-commerce stats world, as they should. Sellers large and small typically have a returns process in place, however many sellers can benefit from improving certain aspects of their returns process, leading to more loyal customers and long-term revenue benefits.
Online buyers return at a rate of 30% compared to retail’s 8% (source: Invesp infographic). While this may seem alarming, many web-only retailers can have extremely low return rates as a majority of returns in the industry are concentrated around apparel sales. Logically, this trend makes sense. As online shoppers can’t try on the clothes first, they can’t be sure the items will fit which can lead to a return. Despite the compelling stats for apparel, all e-commerce merchants should consider an easy return policy. Nailing returns has great benefits like increasing customer loyalty and shopping experience satisfaction. Huge online retailers like Zappos built their entire business on fast shipping and easy returns. In this post we’ll go over a few ways to boost your entire returns process to reap these benefits.
1. Make sure your orders are accurate
This may sound simple, but many returns are not because customers don’t actually want what they ordered, but because they received the wrong order entirely. This is actually fairly common in the e-commerce world – customers will often receive an incomplete order, the wrong order, or merchandise from a website they’ve never visited (due to recipient address errors). To ensure that orders fulfilled are accurate and go to the correct destination, I suggest removing the capacity for manual errors by automating as much of the shipping process as you can through integrated shipping software. Software enables you to pull in orders as the customers entered them, validate addresses, generate pick lists to guarantee you’re grabbing the right item from your inventory, and generate packing slips to double check the order has everything inside the box.
2. Have a solid return/refund policy on your website
Clarify specifically which items you only offer partial refunds to or don’t offer refunds at all. A personal tip: If you don’t offer a refund on a specific item, give an explanation to shoppers why you don’t. The extra effort to explain the restricted policy goes a long way. When creating a return policy, it’s easiest to find a tool that can build your policy for you (like Shopify’s free return policy generator – which doesn’t require a Shopify login). These tools will build a working return policy based on parameters you enter. You’ll receive the groundwork for your perfect return policy which you and then edit further to more closely match your product offerings. This article from TermsFeed goes over many qualities that make a good returns policy and how having one can positively affect your sales. These qualities include: set a lengthy returns period to account for restocking and refunding, offer free returns, look at why items are being returned in an effort to fix it, and more.