If you are running an online store, sooner or later you’ll have to deal with returns. Of course, visitors are browsing a webstore to purchase goods; they don’t mean to cause you troubles. Though sometimes customers make returns, it’s unavoidable in real life. Think about how to make your return policy a feature that benefits your business image and differentiates you from competitors in the customers’ eyes.
Consider the latest statistics on consumer buying habits before proceeding with an online return program layout:
- 14% of German respondents aged between 50 and 59 avouched they have returned used products;
- 29% of Canadian respondents prefer shopping at their favorite retailer due to a great loyalty program, which includes a flexible return program;
- 42% of UK respondents found flexible returns policy an important aspect when shopping online or in store;
- Swedish consumers returned more than 50% or 1.39 million mail shipments out of 3.58 million made by Nordic countries;
- 59% of Italian respondents noticed price (item/shipment cost, tax/return policy, etc.) is the main reason for a retailer choice;
- 79% of US respondents confessed the final price including promo offers and a return policy are an important influencer for final shopping purchase.
This data reveals that returns are really a big deal, so let’s investigate the topic a bit deeper to find out why clients send their products back.
According to the latest e-commerce trends, more than 30% of all purchased products are returned back. Probably, that’s the reason why around 49% of retailers offer free return shipping today.
Among the key reasons why customers return products:
- 20% of buyers received flawed or damaged products;
- 22% of buyers received products ‘not corresponding to the images they saw on the website’;
- 23% of buyers received products sent by mistake;
- 35% other explanations.
So, in a nutshell, the report clearly demonstrates that consumers really can’t be blamed for the majority of returns. A wrong item placed in the box, poor product images or descriptions, damaged products – all the listed failures are on the merchant’s side even when they are unintentional. We all are human, so we make mistakes. Your primary task here is to solve the issue in a profit-making way without injury to your reputation.
Return policy can make or break the sales
Often e-commerce entrepreneurs don’t realize how strongly the return policy of their webshop influences conversions. As you can see, 67% of buyers take time to read the return policy even before browsing the catalog for something they might like. And 92% of customers make a vital decision whether they should make a purchase in your store based on the way you handle returns.
Here is some more statistics to fully convince you that return policy is on the list of essential things, which have to be done right if you want a webstore to prosper.
In compliance with the latest online business strategies, top 1000 retailers follow the next return rules:
- 12% allow purchasing products from store inventory;
- 48% permit shoppers to select items for online shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores;
- 57% provide their customers with in-store returns of online purchases.
The uncomplicated rules can build up trust and loyalty, which in the end have a huge impact on your bottom line.
A flexible return policy inspires trust in customers through fully legitimate documented information proved practically. It builds up trust and reliability, which in the end have a huge impact on your bottom line.
So how to come up with a comprehensive plan that would reduce the resources spent on returns and keep the customers happy? Here are some tips:
Be friendly and flexible
People are extremely cautious when buying something online. They can’t interact with a product like they would in a physical store; they pay for shipping and taxes in addition to the price. Make shoppers feel safe, offer a longer return period. By doing so you ensure the consumers are satisfied with your store, if not with a product.
A restocking fee is a no-no!
You should offer free shipping when it’s possible. See it like a demonstration of a good will to convince the customers of your care about them and intention to provide a positive shopping experience.
Provide an easy way to send products back
Convenience is the main reason why people shop online. Develop a clear and hassle-free process of returning the goods, allow printing the return shipping labels from your website.
Make sure the return policy is apprehensible and well defined
Customers already feel frustrated because they haven’t received the desired item. Reduce their stress providing a simple way to change the situation for the better. Supply them with a clear-cut visual step-by-step guide.
Train your employees
Ensure that every member of your team is up to date with the policy and can assist buyers with any questions quickly and effectively.
Acknowledge your mistakes
If you messed up and shipped the wrong item or forgot to include some parts in the box – just apologize and make it right, regardless of the policy. Such a step will help you keep a reliable reputation and make the clients return. Buyers appreciate honesty and politeness!
Hopefully, this information got you in the right state of mind, so go forth and draw up your own return policy! If you have anything to add on this arcane topic, please, feel free to leave comments.