Returns have always been a challenge for retailers in the eCommerce industry because of their numbers and processing costs. Nobody wants to deal with a lot of returns and unsatisfied customers. However, when you approach it right, returns can be more of an opportunity than a burden.
Online stores that have learned how to take advantage of returns and have a reliable process use the opportunity to create a positive experience for their customers and increase their trust and loyalty.
If you feel overwhelmed by dealing with returns and keeping your customers satisfied while at it, here are some ways to help streamline your returns process and grow your business.
1. Get the Orders Right
Several customers return products not because it is faulty or no longer want it, but because they received a wrong order. Customers often receive an incorrect product size, incomplete order, or a different product when eCommerce businesses do not have a solid order fulfillment process in place.
To ensure that you send the right product to the correct address, reduce all manual errors by automating the shipping process. Use software that will enable you to process orders efficiently as you receive them.
You should also consider partnering with a 3PL that offers order fulfillment services for your growing eCommerce business. If you are running out of storage for your inventory and becoming overwhelmed by the volume of orders coming in, look into third-party logistics companies that can help with accurate order fulfillment.
2. Have an Inclusive Return Policy
A return policy is like an instructions manual. It should clearly explain to the customer what they need to do and how they should return a product successfully. Your customers should be able to read and understand it easily.
At a minimum, ensure that the policy explains the returns process, including details of how long a customer has before they return a product, who they should contact, how much it will cost them and where they should send the product.
Tailor the terms and conditions according to your business. You may want to look at some return policies from similar companies to ensure that you offer favorable terms. If you are not accepting returns on some products, briefly explain to your customer why.
3. Ensure That Your Employees Also Understand the Policy
Your employees should be fully aware of your store's or product's return policy. Educate your customer service, sales team, or any other employee who interacts with customers on the policy, what it entails and how they should address the customers returning a product.
Good customer interaction is crucial, especially when it comes to customer satisfaction and retention. Your customers will take their time to carefully read and understand the return policy to ensure that they are not stuck with a product that they cannot use; it will be disappointing to talk to someone from your team who is not aware of the same.
It would help if you also allowed your employees to be relatively flexible when it comes to expedited shipping or other special conditions. For example, if a product was damaged during shipping, they can quickly mail the replacement to appease the customer.
However, because handling such special cases and expedited shipping costs more, please do not give all employees the power to authorize it. Have a specific contact employee for the special authorizations and educate them on weighing out the options.
4. Keep the Return and Refund Process as Simple as Possible
Getting repeat business or a referral from a satisfied customer is easier than finding a new customer. This means you should ensure that any shopper who buys from you is happy with your services, including the returns process.
Though customers are unhappy if they have to return a product, they will be satisfied if returning the product and getting a replacement is easy. Giving your customers a positive experience and easy returns will increase your chances of repeat business.
A good way of keeping the process simple is by including a return label with the order. This is one of the latest trends in the eCommerce industry.
5. If Possible, Offer Alternatives
Generally, you can reduce returns by meeting the expectations of your customers. This means not overselling the performance or value of a product. For example, if you are selling supplements or consumables which cannot be returned after they have been opened, you can offer a customer store credit to maintain a good relation.
You should also ensure that such terms are included in your returns policy, and the customers agree with the terms before they buy the products.
6. Give Returns a Personal Touch
You should send emails to inform your customers that you have received the returned item and when you will ship the replacement. Keep the lines of communication open, and respond to every call, message or email promptly.
Remember, eCommerce is about building a strong relationship with your customers. This includes offering excellent customer service. Try to make your customer feel that you value them.
Easy Returns Are an eCommerce Opportunity
Managing returns the right way is a vital part of any eCommerce business. They should not be an afterthought because they reflect strongly on your customer experience and satisfaction. Though online shoppers demand a lot from retailers, having a streamlined returns process will ensure that the customers know what to expect from you and you can meet their needs without losing business.
Shipnetwork offers return management services to help you streamline your entire eCommerce order fulfillment process. We treat your customers like our own to ensure quick and easy returns with excellent service. Contact us today to learn more!