As a modern retailer you wear so many hats that even your hats have hats.
So when you're navigating your retail brand through the seemingly enormous world of eCommerce, sometimes things slip through the cracks, and often times your returns policy is one of those things.
By clearly setting the boundaries for your product returns policy, you're not only giving consumers clear expectations of your returns process, but are also protecting yourself from return fraud.
As aforementioned, consumers are persuaded to purchase a product if they know they can return it later— this behavior translates into an increase in product sales.
While more sales are great, retailers still need to craft a returns policy that will prevent those sales from turning into returns.
The obvious action would be to tighten up your returns policy, right? Wrong, a more lenient returns policy can actually prevent product returns.
Lengthening The Time Frame for Your Returns Policy
According to research conducted by Narayanan Janakiraman, an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Texas:
Many retailers opt for a standard 30 day returns policy, and while that interval provides customers with enough time to return a product, it doesn't come with the aforementioned benefits of a truly liberal returns policy.
Retailers should take advantage of the endowment effect and consider increasing their returns window to 60 to 90 days. While there is no magic number for your returns time frame, an interval that is too generous might be counterproductive, so make sure it makes sense to provide long term returns.
Product returns damage the customer experience, and while providing a seamless and hassle free return interaction will get retailers back on good terms with consumers, there still is no promise of returning consumers. Retailers need to be proactive when considering the customer experience after every return.
Sending the consumer a thank you letter or email will show the customer how much you value you their business.
Not only does a thank you message show the consumer how much a retailer values their business, but it also opens up a new sales opportunity. By leveraging some data and buying trends that retailers collect about their consumers, the possibility of using incentives to reclaim a consumer arises.Along with your thank you message, include a discount towards the consumers next purchase. Some retailers are smart about their returns collection and have return reason codes attached to an order. By looking at the reason for a return, retailers might be able to offer a smarter discount.
Consumers are accustomed to easy and hassle free returns, thanks to Amazon's prominence in online retail. Shopify retailers need to present their returns process in a similar fashion.Consider creating a short product return guide to include within your policy. When a consumer can visualize the ease of a return, they will be more receptive to the idea of actually having to return the product, and therefore will continue the sale.
The world of eCommerce is ripe with product returns, and having an effective returns policy is a staple for any serious retailer— however not all returns policies are created equal.
By revamping your eCommerce returns policy and modifying it to be more customer centric, you can drive sales and convert disappointed customers to lifetime buyers.
Retailers need to combine their customer centric return policies, with their logistics operations, marketing efforts, and sales forces to fully take advantage of a product return.
When crafting your new eCommerce customer centric returns policy, keep these key ideas in mind:
Remember, product returns signify a disappointed consumer— so each product return you receive is an opportunity to convert a lost sale into a lifetime buyer. Your eCommerce returns policy should serve as a vehicle that not only persuades consumers to purchase your products, but also gives you valuable insights about your consumers and your products.