Between the many things an ecommerce business owner must keep in mind, a good return policy is something that should not be overlooked. Research shows that customers have very strong opinions about what makes a good return policy, and many people will not hesitate to take their money elsewhere if they find yours lacking. In the competitive online market that is growing larger by the minute, customer loyalty and retention is key to staying afloat. Read on for the five major factors you should be considering when you develop your ecommerce business’ return policy.
Keep it Simple
A good return policy starts with the language. According to a 2019 infographic by ShipBob about ecommerce return, 49% of all shoppers actively check the return policy before going through with a purchase, and 18% will abandon their carts when they find a retailer’s return policy unsatisfactory.
A clear and straightforward return policy, written in language that is easy for the average customer to understand, minimizes confusion. Your terms should be well-defined to be effective. A good return policy is specific about how many days the customer has to make the return, when the countdown of coverage starts, as well as any expectations you have regarding the condition of the items if they are sent back. If you have any guidelines or restrictions that govern whether you will accept or reject an item return, outline them well.
Make it Easy to Find
Customers value transparency and honesty, especially when transacting online. Putting links to your return policy page in strategic, visible locations that are easy to access throughout your ecommerce site can increase a customer’s level of trust and confidence in your products and brands. It shows that you run a straightforward business that has nothing to hide and won’t give them the runaround. To enhance the efficacy of your return policy, it could be advantageous to add visuals such as graphics, tables, or a nifty how-to video detailing your return process.
Don’t Inconvenience the Customer
The same 2019 infographic from ShipBob states that most return—80.2% of them—are initiated when the item arrives damaged or broken. This is already an inconvenience to the customer and will make them think twice about buying from you again; adding insult to injury by overcomplicating the return process will only result in you losing that customer’s business.
You can reduce return process difficulties in many ways. Including a pre-printed shipping label and making the item easy to ship back in its original packaging is a good step. Affiliating yourself with order fulfillment services that USA retailers trust can also streamline the process. The service provider can offer multiple drop-off locations for returned products, speed up the issuing of refunds, and get replacements to the customer faster.
Offer Free Return
Consider the statistics: 95 million people in the United States currently hold Amazon Prime membership, accounting for 59% of the online shopping giant’s total US customers. It’s clear to see that Americans value speed and convenience in the age of instant gratification, and they’re willing to pay a premium for the privilege of getting their items faster and being able to return items at no additional cost.
According to a 2018 survey conducted by ReadyCloud, a whopping 79% of customers will refuse to do business outright with an online store that charges fees for return shipping. That’s understandable; no one wants to pay to return a damaged or defective item, and no one should have to. Free return can have as significant an impact on your business as free shipping does—if you can make it work, the feature can fuel a large enough sales increase that it will essentially fund itself. Try running some numbers and see if this is something that you can feasibly offer your customer base.
Focus on Reducing Return Overall
To borrow a phrase, the best return policy is one that will never have to be used. While it’s impossible to perfect order fulfillment, there are many ways that you can reduce returns. Clarify your product descriptions and offer clear and detailed information about each one, as this will directly inform the customer’s expectations. If your product page reflects accurate information, but you are still seeing high rates of return for it, put the product through quality testing and check with the supplier or manufacturer for any issues. You can also enlist your customers’ help in figuring out what makes them initiate return with a quick online survey. The information you collect can prove invaluable and help you determine the specific factors that cause them to return a product.
In the absence of personal interaction, a customer can only base their satisfaction level on their history with your ecommerce company. Creating a good return experience is crucial to maintaining their trust and ensuring their continued patronage of your products. Your return policy should never be an afterthought. Make sure that it’s fair and considerate of your customers’ needs, and your customers will be much more inclined to buy from you again.