After the manic shopping spree caused by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an air of soberness is set to hit retailers as people change their minds about products purchased, and eCommerce returns expect to peak.

With return volumes rising this Christmas, how should retailers handle returns?

Dubbed ‘Boomerang Wednesday’, today many customers will return items in time for choosing alternatives for Christmas.

According to an article by Graham Charlton of Econsultancy, stats provided by CollectPlus predict a 25% increase in eCommerce returns volumes this week, compared with 2013.

The survey also found that 27% of consumers are put off ordering something online in the first place because they do not want the hassle of returning it if it’s not right.

These stats highlight the importance of returns policies, plus the need to reassure customers that if they do make a purchase, returning it if it’s not what they expected, shouldn’t be a problem.

Here are a few tips to improve your retail & eCommerce returns policy:

1). Make your policy easy to understand

Your returns policy should be clear and easy to understand. Refrain from using scary language about legal obligations that could be misconstrued as trying to deter the customer from making a return.

Charlton uses this example from Sports Direct as an example:

15 tips for improving ecommerce returns policies. An important read for an ecommerce website owner and seller. Find out more tips, fulfilment news & more.

He goes on to highlight Zappos’ returns policy as a good example of clear, concise information:

15 tips for improving ecommerce returns policies. An important read for an ecommerce website owner and seller. Find out more tips, fulfilment news & more.

2). Provide multi-channel returns

Giving customers the option to return items to stores is a must if you have a high street or offline presence. It’s often more convenient for customers and increases the chance of them buying something else while in-store.

Customers appreciate the flexibility and convenience of multi-channel returns. A choice of options will encourage repeat business, and the opportunity to demonstrate how a product works may also avoid a return.

3). Make your returns policy easy to find

You can usually find the eCommerce returns policy via a link in the footer of the website. As this is standard practice, the majority of consumers will expect to find it here. What’s important to bear in mind is how the returns policy can influence a purchase decision, particularly in cases where customers aren’t 100% sure about the product in the first place.

This example below from Schuh shows a prominent display of the returns policy, giving customers reassurance that they can return an item easily if they find it’s not right for them, and work as a sales driver.

15 tips for improving ecommerce returns policies. An important read for an ecommerce website owner and seller. Find out more tips, fulfilment news & more.

4). Free returns

Of course, there are costs involved if you offer free returns, but these costs need to be weighed against the extra conversions it brings, and the potential boost to retention rates.

Charlton references Zapoos’ strategy of free and easy returns. The company discovered that customers buying its more expensive shoes have a 50% return rate. In fact, the people who regularly return items can be some of their best customers.

According to an old quote from Craig Adkins of Zappos:

“Our best customers have the highest returns rates, but they are also the ones that spend the most money with us and are our most profitable customers. Zappos’ modus operandi is not to give its purchasers the cheapest footwear on the block, but to give them the best service: hence, a 365-day returns policy, and free two-way shipping.”

4). Include clear returns info in packaging

Many retailers may believe that making returns harder will reduce the overall number, but this isn’t the case. It’s possible that customers will, in fact, be annoyed by the process that they won’t shop with you again.

The best advice is to provide a seamless customer experience. Make it easy for your customers and they will get to trust your service, giving them the confidence to use you again and again.

Bray Solutions offer a full range of 3PL services including storing your stock and handling the delivery and returns on behalf of your business. For more information speak to the team on 01780 784875 or email info@braysolutions.com

 

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