Returns are just part of doing business. Without a clear process in place, returns can take up a lot of your time. Luckily, having an effective return strategy can be a way of building a better brand, which can grow your sales and become a profitable strategy. According to a recent ShipStation study, 72% of shoppers say return policies directly influence their online purchasing decisions. In order to create long term customer satisfaction, it’s important that your strategy is straightforward and aligns with your customers’ expectations.
Much like a shipping policy, it’s critical to make your returns strategy clear and straightforward. Transparency is an integral part of the ecommerce customer experience. There should be no hidden fees associated with returns. If customers will be responsible for return shipping costs, which can help you reduce shipping costs, make sure that information is presented clearly. In fact, we found that ⅔ of consumers have left without buying because of a company’s poor return policy. With that in mind be sure to include the following in your policy:
- What can be returned
- The most commonly returned items are clothing, electronics, toys, shoes, and accessories.
- How long they have to return an item
- 32 days is the average return window expected by consumers.
- 12% of consumers keep unwanted items if they miss the deadline for the return.
- How money is refunded
- 71% of consumers prefer to receive cash or credit refund over an immediate exchange.
- 22% of consumers prefer to exchange products for something else.
- Who pays for the return shipping
- 78% of consumers would rather have prepaid shipping liable provided with the return cost deducted from their refund.
- $5 is the maximum most consumers are willing to pay for processing a return.
In our study, we found that 77% of consumers prefer to return online orders in-store. The driving factor here is convenience. Advances in point of sales, pick-up, and delivery options are great for the consumer and easy to implement by Fortune 500 companies. But, the rest of merchants have to find ways to cater to the demands of our customers while still remaining cost-effective. While it may be difficult to cater to all customer expectations, returns are a great opportunity to create repeat customers. In fact, 49% of consumers become repeat customers after returning or exchanging items.
It’s clear that returns can have a big impact on your bottom line, and for good reason: the nature of ecommerce makes a good return strategy a must-have. Unlike brick-and-mortar, ecommerce shoppers are unable to physically hold on or try on purchases. As ecommerce becomes ever-present in how we shop, customers expect ecommerce returns to be as free and easy as in brick-and-mortars.
Returns are unwanted by both consumers and merchants. However, mastering returns can increase customer satisfaction and create long-term customers. A streamlined returns strategy will help elevate your brand above the competition. Offering a way to return items showcases your commitment to great customer service. It also helps establish your brand as being bigger than it may actually be. The more established your business appeals to customers, the more likely they are to order for you again.
To discover more consumer expectations about the items people most commonly return, why, and how returns motivate their purchasing decisions, download ShipStation’s ebook Returns: A Deep Dive into Consumers’ Growing Expectations.