A product return request by a customer is not bad news after all. In fact, the return page on your website is the perfect ground to transform customer experience, leading to a definitive impact on the revenue and sales of your business. Here are some quick facts about e-commerce product return trends to affirm that thought:
- 67% of online shoppers check the return policy page before making a purchase
- 79% of consumers want free return shipping
- 92% of buyers will purchase again if returns are easy and hassle-free
Many retailers have put return policy a core part of their CX strategy. For instance, nearly 48% of retailers have begun offering free return shipping now.
Return Policy- How to Get it Right?
A marketing study conducted at the University of Texas at Arlington identified 5 dimensions that should be touched upon when defining the return policy by online retailers. They are as under-
- Time leniency – 60 days vs. 30 days return policy
- Money leniency - total refund vs. partial refund
- Effort leniency- no need to fill out lengthy forms vs. having to list out every detail about the purchased item
- Scope leniency- accepting return on sale items vs. no such provision
- Exchange leniency- cash back vs. store credit
These parameters will not only define the reach of the return policy, but also make it efficient, seamless and transparent. Lack of information and poor redress system can lead to negative customer experience. Although a buyer’s journey starts with generic search, it does not end with the purchase. The experience that follows after that is an integral part of a buyer’s journey.
It is an ideal outcome for retailers if a customer is happy with their purchase and does not raise a return request. However, retailers must not panic in case a customer is seeking refund or looking to return the product. When shopping online, customers cannot touch, feel, and try a product or apparel before buying it. This is the primary reason why nearly 30% of products bought online are returned as opposed to only 8.89% products bought from brick and mortar stores.
Since, return requests are not unique; online retailers should use this opportunity to improve customer experience which will eventually foster businesses development and growth.
1.Contextual Response and Assistance
At a recently concluded webinar hosted by Ameyo, Dharmarajan K, Head of CS and Customer Experience at Tata CLIQ emphasized that although the FAQ’s and query section of the websites have become very rich with time; the support is still not contextual in nature. For example, if a user is browsing through the return page of a website, it is highly likely that he or she is looking for replacement or refund of the product.
An automated response or information with respect to the return policy of the company is the right direction towards achieving customer experience. Product return assistance will help in trust building. Buyers will have more faith and will be encouraged to purchase again.
2. Streamline Product Inventory
An analysis of the returned product will help retailers understand the actual reason for return. For example, if many customers are raising return request for the same product category, it is quite likely that the given batch of product has an issue. The issue could be related to sizing, hardware, damage to the good etc.
These insights will help retailers take crucial inventory decision. For example, a faulty product can be immediately pulled out of the catalog so that customers don’t face the similar problem.
3. Up-sell Opportunity
A customer successfully returned a product. As part of the next step, retailers can send out personalized messages with the details of an associated product along with promotion code. Chances are that the customer has still not purchased the product and will end up buying the product.
Checklist of a Good Return Policy
There is a general acceptance amongst retailers that lenient return policy promotes customer experience and sales. However, is excessive leniency a bad practice? In view of that, we have listed the following checklist of a good return policy –
1. Maintain Transparency
Return policy should be transparent. Fine prints and clauses should be avoided. It is important to be upfront. For example, does the return only entails exchange or 100% refund.
2. Publicize Return Policy
Have a clear section on the return policy on the website, social media pages and email marketing campaigns. This will promote brand advocacy and trust.
3. Educate the Customer
While returning a product, customers are expected to keep the receipt, original packing of the product. Clear information and guidelines is important so that customers are aware of what is expected from them during return.
4. Prompt Return
Speedy and prompt return is an important prerequisite. Ensuing that the product is timely picked from the customer and the money refunded on time should be priority.
With competition getting stiff and customer expectation changing, every aspect of running an online business needs to be taken into account. A fair and well conceived return policy will result in positive customer experience. It will also encourage customers to become brand advocates which is a big achievement for any business.