A good returns process has always been an important part of the customer experience. Surveys show that 92 percent of customers will purchase from a retailer again after having a positive returns experience. As people are likely to be less comfortable going to physical stores to return items this peak season, a great returns process is your secret weapon to drive customer loyalty.
Ecommerce sales accounted for 18% of US sales in 2021, and ecommerce return rates can actually be three times more than brick and mortar return rates. Your returns management process is extremely important for the customer journey. The trick is determining how to create a great virtual returns process that will ensure your customers repurchase from you and keep them coming back for more. There are three key points during the buyer journey where your standard return policy can help create loyal customers.
Ecommerce sales accounted for 18% of US sales in 2021, and ecommerce return rates can actually be three times more than brick and mortar return rates.
Before the customer buys an item
67 percent of shoppers check the return policy before they even purchase an item. This means if you have a subpar returns policy, you could be driving customers away! Here are the main features customers look for in a returns policy.
- How strict is the return policy? 51 percent of customers have decided not to make a return because the policy was too strict. If your policy is so strict that someone who wants to make a return decides it’s not worth the effort, how likely is this customer to make another purchase from your company? Not very. Additionally, if a potential customer sees your return policy is too strict, they will go elsewhere.
- Does the customer have to pay for return shipping? 47 percent of consumers say paying for return shipping fees would stop them from making a purchase in the first place, so offering free return shipping can be a deciding factor for some shoppers.
Having a strict return process might be easier for you because it means you don’t have to deal with as many returns, but it could be costing you a lot of sales. In the past, many people preferred to go into a brick-and-mortar store when this option was available to make returns, but with continued COVID-19 restrictions and uncertainty, that may not be the case. Making it easy for your customers to return a product however they choose will help create loyalty and ensure that they will purchase from you again.
When a customer initiates a return
The moment a customer begins the returns process is another opportunity to create a loyal customer. People hope for easy returns and good customer service when they do have to return an item. Here are a few steps you can take to exceed expectations and create customer loyalty throughout this process.
- Credit them instantly. For most consumers, receiving a quick refund, whether it’s store credit, a store gift card or cash, is the biggest reason they prefer to return items in a physical location. By offering an instant refund, even if the customer does their return online and sends the item back, it increases the chances that the customer will immediately repurchase something else from your store.
- Have a user-friendly online portal. An easy-to-use customer return portal is a great way to make sure consumers know exactly what they need to do, the status of their return and have access to tracking information while increasing customer satisfaction.
- Provide a convenient return method. As we mentioned earlier, consumers do not like strict or complicated return methods. Once they initiate the return, they will want convenient ways to drop off or mail the return. It’s important to provide options that work in today’s world, where many people may not have a printer to print out a shipping label or packing materials on hand. You can combat this problem by mailing pre-printed return labels with the initial shipment or partnering with a third-party location that allows the customer to drop off non packaged items.
By offering an instant refund, even if the customer does their return online and sends the item back, it increases the chances that the customer will immediately repurchase something else from your store.
When the return enters your supply chain
Even once you receive a returned item, there are a multitude of ways to recover the value of your returned inventory. Return mismanagement is generally why companies don’t like to offer flexible returns processes, but you can ensure that the returned item is sent to the most profitable channel by doing the following.
- Leverage data-driven decisions. It is very important to replace manual and subjective decision making by employing technology that optimally routes inventory to the proper channels based on things like price, condition, seasonality, SKU and more. There is a lot of opportunity to automate these processes and have items routed quickly to your most profitable channel and reenter your supply chain.
- Utilize analytics. By using software that automates your returns process, you can track each return at the unit level, identify trends and improve the chances that you can resell the returned merchandise at full price. It’s a huge bonus if you can link these tracking analytics to your customer portal-increasing customer loyalty even more.
By using software that automates your returns process, you can track each return at the unit level, identify trends and improve the chances that you can resell the item at full price.
The returns process can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience for you or your customer base. By creating an informed process, you can increase customer loyalty and increase your profits.
Master your returns process with ITS Logistics
Managing returns and reverse logistics can take a lot of energy and resources, especially in addition to everything else you need to do to run a business. It’s clear that managing returns effectively is extremely important to your business success, so let ITS do the heavy lifting. Our experienced team members have years of expertise in effective returns processing, from omnichannel to ecommerce fulfillment. Let us help you make your returns process great so you can create customer loyalty and increase your sales. Give us a call today to see how we can help.