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Happy Returns Experience: Customer Centricity in Returns Management

Matt Blevins
Updated 04/06/21 4:45 PM

Addressing Customer Centricity

Customer centricity appears to be a simple concept. Deliver a great experience at all stages of the customer experience, and you'll enjoy higher profits as well a distinct advantage over your competitors.

If it seems too good to be true, well, you know the rest.

That's because no two retailers are the same. No two shoppers are the same, either. Each customer has unique needs, patterns of activity, and affinity toward your brand. 

Some shoppers will purchase every month, some will purchase once a year. Some can't resist new product releases, while others hunt for a good deal.

That's not to say that any one behavior is necessarily better than the others, nor are these behaviors entirely fixed.

Although the optimal returns experience will vary case by case, it is still important for us to recognize foundational elements of customer centricity within returns management.

What is Customer-Centric Returns Management?

The core principle is that returns impact the customer experience. 

Think of it this way: when a shopper returns a product, assume she will tell a friend. What is the experience she will share?

Returns management isn't just about processing returns, it's about handling a delicate and often overlooked part of the customer experience.

UI/UX of a Return

Up to 40% of your shoppers will at some point return a product. So this part of the ecommerce journey demands proper attention.

It starts with building confidence early. Returns due to the product's quality or description can be detrimental the customer relationship.

In your product pages, provide ample product description, images, and social proof to build confident purchase decisions.

And when a shopper decides to return a product, the returns page needs to be easy to find.

Be sure to keep it simple - the last thing the shopper wants is to be greeted with a generic page full of excessive text instructing them how to start a return.


Here, we see an excellent example of a returns page. Notice that it is short, easy to read, and sets clear expectations.

Return Policies

No one likes returning a product they bought online, but it is a perfectly natural part of the ecommerce customer lifecycle.

And if the retailer makes it a hassle, or severely limits your ability to do so, it can seriously jeopardize the customer relationship.

We recommend that you begin with lenient and clearly defined return policies.

Return policies not only affect the returns experience, they can affect your conversion, as well.

As many as two-thirds of your shoppers may check your returns page before making a purchase.

Click here to see the Ecommerce Return Policy Checklist

The Returns Process

Customers expect to receive their refund, exchange, or store credit quickly.

So once the shopper has initiated a return, the new goal is to process that return as efficiently as possible.

Many retailers outgrow a manual returns process, but simply don't know when is the time to switch.

Shoppers expect to be in-the-loop regarding the status of their returns, so be sure to keep shoppers informed with status updates along the way.

Listen to Your Shoppers

With access to robust returns data, retailers can iterate and improve the shopper experience for the future.

This includes reducing the return rate, helping shoppers find new products they will love, and enhancing their own returns management operation.

We're all looking for customer feedback. Returns data holds crucial insights from shoppers that would otherwise be overlooked.

In Summary

Customer centricity does not stop at the time of purchase. It is a holistic framework that advocates creating positive experiences for your shoppers. That includes your returns management strategy. 

In fact, customer experience is a core element of returns management solutions.

Although the ideal set of product return strategies will vary by company and shopper, it is a significant step to implement a basic level of customer centricity in your ecommerce returns experience.

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