Returns processes: convert a tricky thing into a sales opportunity

by Andrea del Campo, 25.02.14

Without customers your business would not exist. Their loyalty is your relief, for that reason maximising their shopping satisfaction should be one of the key points for your online shop. In this article we bring you some useful advice to convert returns into better customer satisfaction.

Retailers are often so focused on product and price competition, they sometimes forget that sales success is mainly defined by customer experience. Satisfying customers doesn’t end once the purchase is done, you have to respond in cases where a purchase was a failure. That’s why it is important to consider that a simple and easy return policy can boost sales, as it generates satisfied customers more willing to come back again to the online shop.


1. Easy and comprehensive returns policies:

Your clients need to know exactly how to return a product and find this information easily in your online shop. Specifying the steps of returning a purchase will make your customer more trustful and confident when deciding to buy. The description should therefore be written in a simple and direct way, avoiding complex sentences and steps. If your customers have doubts whether to buy or not, any small reason –such as a tricky return process – will make them run to your closest competitor and make you lose at least one sale.


2.    Provide clear instructions within the delivery package including a return label:

Nobody wants to wait until receiving a return label to send a product back. Whether you include a return label in the package or you prefer to provide the web address to print it, the process should be clear. That’s why we also recommend including a small leaflet or a link to your online shop, where customers can find the needed information in order to speed up that procedure. Remember, if a customer invests more time returning a product than buying it, they will not be keen on repeating a purchase.


3.    Inform about the return costs: or even better, don’t charge for returns

Of course, there are costs involved when you offer free returns, but by doing this the customer will feel more comfortable and in the end it will result in fewer return rates and higher converted customers.


4.    Use the return process as a new sales opportunity:

After you receive a returned product, you may ask some of these questions: Why did the customer return the product? Didn’t it fit? Was the size not correct? Was it defective? A way to answer these questions is to send you customer a small email survey to know the reasons of their return and, at the same time, include some related items to give them the chance to see some other options and consider the possibility of buying again.


5.    Provide multi-channel returns:

If you are a multi-channel retailer and have both, a store and an online shop, you should allow your customers to return their products to your local store. We consider this a must for your business. In addition, this will avoid return costs and ease the clients to return it or to change it into a new one.


Some of these tips might sound overwhelming, but once that you put them into practice, you will see that it was worth the effort.

You can also find more info about returns processes trends in our Next in Commerce project.

About the author

was an editor at ePages. With passion for merchant advice, practical tips and commerce news she enriched our Spanish and English blog.

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