It goes without saying that e-commerce is here to stay, which means that online returns are also a reality that small businesses must prepare for to keep their customers happy and meet their expectations. The simplicity of click-to-buy must be matched by the speed and convenience of delivering goods and managing customers that want to return their goods as it is a standard part of online business.
How can you ensure that your business handles returns in a way that can save you money and create loyal customers? Explore our handy tips:
Have a standard returns policy in place
Studies show that at least 30% of all products that are ordered online will be returned, and 92% of customers are more likely to shop online again if the product return process is easy. It’s therefore important to make sure you have a reliable returns policy that supports the preferences of your customers.
A returns policy is a set of rules that outlines what customers can expect if they need to return or exchange a product. These can vary from business to business, but the policy is there to act as a guideline in case customers don’t want what they purchased. This policy should include important information about when you accept returns, what the conditions of return are, and how you issue refunds. Establishing a clear return policy can also help protect your business from return fraud, so ensure that you do thorough research about what you want to include in your policy.
Offer flexibility for returns
At the end of the day, customers don’t want the hassle of filling in too many forms or being kept on hold for hours to return a wrong, faulty, or damaged item. In fact, 62% of shoppers are more likely to shop online if they can return an item instore, which shows that flexibility is key when it comes to managing online returns. Some businesses choose to forgo free return shipping to customers who routinely send items back, while others welcome returns as a form of added customer service. Others want to reduce the likelihood of returns by giving customers what they want, and they therefore use techniques such as “bracketing”, where they send customers a product in a range of sizes, colours, and other variations – customers then choose which they like best and return the rest. Ultimately, the best way to ensure your customers keep shopping is to make it as easy as possible for them to return products.
Anticipate your customer’s returns needs
Providing pre-printed address labels, sample forms, and even reusable packaging for returning items can help smooth out the process at a low cost. It’s also important to consider how much time customers have to return a product, especially if the items are seasonal or trends change frequently.
Another important factor to remember is to train your employees so they know how to handle returns. They should know all your business’s return policy as well as how to do the transactions.
Whichever strategy you choose to implement for your business, ensure that your returns process delights customers and encourages them to shop again with you. Be consistent with your policy. Make sure you treat all customers the same, accept the same products, and don’t change the rules without informing them.