Why would any businesses spend time worrying about their return policies? After all, shouldn’t the real focus be on preventing returns in the first place?
Yes and no. Of course companies ought to provide the best products and services they can if they wish to retain customers, but well-oiled return management processes have the power to equally exceed customer expectations and create brand loyalty. In fact, returns should be chief among the customer service offerings, especially when it comes to e-commerce. Here’s why:
Satisfaction in action
Thoughtful consumers questioning whether to purchase something off the internet will, more often than not, consider the seller’s return policy. In fact, 88 percent of online shoppers check first, according to a UPS survey, and 15 percent will forgo purchases altogether if they can’t understand or locate the policy. It is, therefore, in the best interest of the business to clarify how customers can return items if necessary in order to support strong sales.
Some products are made to be returned
Companies in industries like fashion and cosmetics can create opportunity with accessible and simple return policies.
At traditional stores, customers have the freedom to try before they buy. Not so with online stores, where all shoppers may get are descriptions, sizing information and pictures. Questions about material texture, true fit and real-life color go unanswered until buyers take the plunge, purchase blindly and wait for their packages to arrive in the mail. Simple returns, then, assuage concerns not only at checkout but also when shoppers first try out the items in question.
Paying for shipping costs
An established, streamlined returns process benefits the business as well. Consider a 2016 news report from the Financial Times which found processing costs for returns can grow to two- or threefold the cost of the initial delivery to the customer.
By addressing their e-commerce return policies, companies take steps toward optimizing returns according to cost, so they never have to pass on those expenses to the consumer. Additionally, these businesses also begin the work needed to devise methods for safe and efficient goods refurbishing and resale. Instead of wasting products and money on methods that drain customer retention and satisfaction, they drive excellent service, solidify themselves as reputable companies and reclaim salable products for full retail pricing later.
No good deed goes unpunished. Those with lax returns policies may become targets for criminals trying to make a quick buck.
According to the National Retail Federation, returns fraud for brick-and-mortar retailers reached an estimated $9.2 billion in 2015. Without a definitive e-commerce return process, these establishments transitioning to or building separate online stores cannot prevent these losses from carrying over. Though many companies would never intentionally sell counterfeit goods, regulators and customers alike won’t settle for excuses if it happens. These instances become indelible marks on otherwise reputable brands.
If businesses want to redefine their returns management, here is how they should start:
- Clear up directions for e-shoppers:Simplify the work customers have to do in order to initiate returns, preferably through an online returns management portal and 24/7 access to a customer service hotline.
- Route returns intelligently:Make sure you know where returns go when customers send them, as well as establishing cost-effective way of determining what gets restocked and what gets destroyed. Consider partnering with fulfillment experts at Landmark Global to manage these channels.
- Think about the global picture:Flexible returns solutions should be available to everyone everywhere. Your current return logistics should be able to handle the kind of cross-border trade that turns local legends into international successes.
Want to know more about the ins and outs of returns management for e-commerce? Contact Landmark Global today.