eCommerce Shipping & Return Policy for Online Store Success
While you are in business, customer satisfaction is of utmost importance! No business can flourish if you can’t fulfill the demands of your customers. There are lots of instances where customers may need to return a particular product to the company due to various different reasons. Well, this is where a proper customer service strategy comes into play. You must always respect the decision of the customer and ensure that the item they wish to return is taken care of properly. All these initiatives help you create trust and goodwill for the long run. In order to have a proper return mechanism in place, it is important that you have a thorough and developed shipping strategy.
According to a recent study, almost every customer wants to have an eCommerce shopping and returns mechanism that is hassle-free and effective. An effective returns mechanism can also indirectly increase the revenue of a retail store. In most cases, customers who experience a hassle-free returns process tend to spend more, which amounts to around 457 percent above the pre-return spending. Furthermore, the business also gets positive reviews and accolades from the customers.
As an online retailer, if you really wish to add to the goodwill of your business, you should look into the following mechanisms to make your returns and product shipping a simplified experience for customers.
Following things must be taken into account while drafting your eCommerce shipping and return policies:
Reduce Return Orders
It’s obvious that customers don’t like everything they buy online and they want to have the chance to return it. So, it is impossible to completely eliminate returns. However, you can make efforts to minimize them. In most cases, returns are placed when the item delivered does not match the expectations of the buyer or the information provided on the site.
To prevent such mismatch, the information about a particular product needs to be true to its nature, detailed and organized. Also, the terms and conditions need to be clearly defined. The site should list all the valuable information such as the exact color, dimensions, features, sizing chart, etc. It also helps to have a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section that clarifies all basic doubts of the customer.
The above information and specifications will help the customers have a better idea about the product. In the case of products such as clothes or other lifestyle items, photos of models wearing or holding the product need to be displayed.
Another great way to win the customer’s trust is to let the customers see the product reviews. Do not make changes to the reviews, let them me as authentic as possible. As per the survey published by PowerReviews, around 90 percent of consumers mentioned that product reviews influence their buying decisions to a great extent. Around 95 percent said that they make sure to go through customer reviews before buying a product, and around 61 percent said they trust consumer reviews over the opinions of friends and family.
Have a Foolproof Returns Policy in Place
Once you have provided all the right information on your products page, it’s now time to pay attention to your returns section. Formulate your policy keeping in mind both the business and consumer perspectives. Zero down on a time frame that consumers would consider as the ideal time period for the return to be processed. Try to have a returns window between 60 and 90 days, unless the product is perishable. A longer returns period is always helpful to win customer satisfaction. For example, businesses that sell online mattresses should have at least a 100-night trial along with free shipping and free returns.
Some terms and conditions that you need to clarify in eCommerce returns policy are:
- Do the original packaging and tags have to be intact?
- Are returns applicable to sale/clearance items?
- What to do if the damage was inflicted by the consumer or the shipping process?
- Can the product be placed back into inventory?
It is also important to determine the shipping process to be used for the returns. Do you need to use a Ground service that is affordable or has a faster return with a priority service? How will your customers drop off their packages? Can the customers leave the package in their mailbox, using USPS, or at nearby FedEx or UPS location?
You may also print the return label and include it as part of the package, or email a printable return label, in case the product needs to be returned. All these will affect the overall shopping experience of the customer, so it’s advisable to consider these aspects carefully.
Ensure to make the Returns process Hassle-Free
Once you have a proper return mechanism and policy in place, try to provide a hassle-free experience to the end customers. Ensure that customers can easily access the return policy and return instructions and understand them well.
It is always good to provide return packaging along with the delivery package like poly bags, small mailers and so on. As per the reports, most shoppers want to have an easy-to-print return label along with the delivery label.
If possible, try to have a centralized returns portal for your customers. This the need for lengthy customer service calls or email exchanges to a great extent. The customer simply selects a reason for the return and then receives a return shipment label.
By having an effective returns policy, you will not only simply improve the shopping experience but also add to the customer trust and goodwill.