How Returns Can Help You Sell More Online

Online returns

A picture says a thousand words, but for many online shoppers that might not be enough. One of the biggest obstacles, when it comes to online shopping, is the lack of human – object interaction that is present in high street shops. How to avoid the problem? Well, the ultimate solution is yet to be presented, but there are some half-measures that can help. Certainly, clear and user-friendly returns policy is one of them.

One may argue that returns are just waste of sellers time and money. I also heard an opinion that people are using returns to wear something to the party and give it back the next day. Truth is that some people are going to take advantage of your return policy. Although for many visitors, it will be that extra something that will help them overcome the fear of online shopping.

Returns should have rules

Just don’t write them in jibber-jabber that nobody understands. Your aim should be to inform your customers not trying to trick them so they give up. Believe it or not, the easy return policy is for your own sake as well. So, if you have a lot points to cover, divide them into common-subject sections. Preferably use bullet points, that will make scanning easier – and people love to save time on those types of things.

Satisfaction guaranteed or money back… within 14 days

While returning items should be easy and painless setting limited time period is both reasonable and necessary. All in all your not running renting company, but an e-commerce store. How much of the timeframe you should restrict depends on the type of merchandise you’re selling and your knowledge of the market you serve. For some, it will be two weeks for others 6 months. In every case make sure to specify very carefully the beginning of the period and precise whether by the number of days you mean calendar or business days.

Looking for returns policy shouldn’t be scavenger hunt

Again, don’t punish customers for returning unwanted items. Don’t hide your return policy out of sight, in hope that customers won’t find it and assume returns are not accepted. By doing so you will only hurt your business. If visitors won’t find returns policy on your website, they will turn their attention to the retailer who will provide them with a possibility of returns. Remember, returns are a safety measure for your customers, that helps them in gaining trust for your e-commerce.

Free returns are customer’s all time favourites

It might feel like insanity, but trust me this is something your visitors will highly appreciate. It might seem to you that with flexible, free returns policy all your customers are going to return everything they buy. The truth to be told, some of them might, but if you will catch on such a tendency with particular customers, you can approach them individually and discuss what are the issues with goods they buy. If you’ll sens they are taking advantage of your returns policy, you might consider putting some restrictions on their purchases. Don’t let isolated incidents to indicate how you should treat your customers in general.

Brag about your free returns policy

If you provide free returns, be proud of it and all your visitors know. Why? It will remove insecurity barrier that some online shopping newbies often have. If they cannot try the shoes on, or touch the bedding how can they be sure it’s something they wanted? Here is when you jump in with your message of free returns loud and clear. Yet another objection disappears.

Cash, exchange or store credit?

Returned items don’t always mean sending money back to the customer. The key is to provide alternatives, such as goods exchange or store credit. If you will only give back money, those customers might never return, because they’ll assume you didn’t care enough to keep them. Yes, the item they purchased haven’t met their expectations but perhaps it was only a matter of wrong size or colour. If you’re dealing with repeating client he might appreciate store credit more than money back.

‘Unless you love it, send it back’

Another solution to make sure customers are aware of your return policy is to send it along with the item. It might reinforce good experience customers have with you. Some people don’t even think about returning something till the very moment they will take it out of the packaging. If they don’t like it, they will appreciate your thoughtfulness of providing return information straight away.

‘No questions asked’

The other barrier that often sets customers off is questioning them why they want to return the item and basing the acceptance of such return on customer’s answer. Some people don’t want to admit the reasons and might not appreciate you putting them on a spot. The ‘no questions asked’ policy establishes your trust to the customer. He also feels that his money are safe with you because if the product won’t satisfy him he can give it back without justification. Especially around the Christmas time, when lots of people try to return unwanted gifts.

Reasons – NO, Feedback – YES

It might seem like the same thing but asking for feedback is a different story. First of all, it’s optional and you might get some answers but there won’t be 100% return rate. Feedback is also more flexible, you might ask about returning experience, is it straightforward, is it convenient, what would your customers change? This gives you access to invaluable information – what your customers expect. Use it wisely and consider changing your return policy accordingly.

Keep your customers posted about their return process status

While order tracking is very popular and part of the standard in the e-commerce world, many sellers neglect to inform customers about the status of the returns. That might cause some insecurity on the customer side. Remember, people are capable of dealing with difficult situations as long as they know what is happening. Lack of information is far more difficult to deal with. That is when people grow impatient and anxious. Make sure your customers know that you are taking care of them every step of the way.

Returns Prevention System – Exhaustive Product Information

Last but not least, make sure you are doing everything to prevent possible returns. Provide detailed information about the product, include lots of pictures, dimensions, access to tools that will help in making an informed decision. Consider making short videos with product presentations. Publish customers reviews of the products. Provide a contact form where all additional questions will be answered. Also, collect most frequently asked questions and publish them in the dedicated section or on the additional subpage. If you will do all this, returns will be just small part of the business.

Returns might be not glamorous part of running e-commerce business but they are an essential part. Having said that, you still can use them to build your brand and customer loyalty. Don’t underestimate the power of great customer service and positive customer experience. If you feel this article cannot be adopted in your business and you still need more information about handling returns don’t hesitate to contact us (wink). We’re here to help you sell more online.



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Barbara Pajak
Barbara Pajak Creative Director, Web Designer

I'm a designer with love for everything that's beautiful. In my case, an expression 'love what you do and you won't work a day in your life' gets it full meaning. I enjoy taking on new projects and learning new things. I like clever designs, the energy that comes from people when they create new things and basically everything that falls within the term of 'living full life'.

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