5 Tips For Handling Holiday Returns
Whether we like it or not, customer returns will always be a part of running a business as an e-commerce retailer—and customers demand a streamlined returns process now more than ever. In fact, in a 2019 survey conducted by UPS, 73% of e-commerce customers expressed that their decision to return to a web retailer depended on their return experience. As the holiday return season approaches, it’s important to remember thar every return is an opportunity to learn and demonstrate your commitment to improving the customer’s experience. Here are some tips to help with e-commerce returns and help your customers have a happy holiday shopping season.
1. Illustrate your Returns Process
Creating a well-designed policy page for returns can smooth out the process for your customers. Adding graphic icons or images can help illustrate certain aspects of your return policy will help customers understand how the return process works. Return policy pages that are solely text-based can overwhelm customers, and in some cases drive them away. A well-designed page that is easy to understand and informative can improve the perception of your online store and increase chances of gaining a loyal customer.
2. Collect your Customer’s Reasons for Returns
Your return page should allow customers to explain why they are making a return; this will provide valuable insight that you can use to improve your business. With these responses in hand you can identify potential issues in your online business. For example, if many customers are responding that the product does not fit as expected, you may need to adjust the product’s description and photo. If customers are often reporting a delivery is late, you may consider using a different mail class or delivery service.
Common set responses on a return page include:
- Item received is not what the customer ordered.
- Delivery of the item was too late.
- The item was never received.
- The product was damaged or defective.
- An incorrect product was sent.
- Incorrect product or size ordered.
- Product fit is smaller or larger than described.
- Product does not match the description or expectation.
- Product is not as pictured.
- Product is no longer needed.
- Purchased the wrong product.
3. Always Offer Encourage Returns
As an online retailer, you put time and effort into marketing and fulfilling your product—that’s why returns are not only a hustle, but potentially a net loss. When a return comes in, it’s imperative to always offer, and encourage an exchange. Providing exchanges are almost always a better solution than a return resulting in no final sale. By working with the customer to complete and exchange, you not only recoup some of your marketing and fulfillment cost, but you also give the customer a better experience than an outright return. Going the extra mile on exchanges is a great way to gain a repeat customer. Online shoppers have more confidence purchasing from retailers who offer a streamlined exchange process—and confidant customers often become loyal customers.
4. Provide Incentives for Quick Returns
It’s best to create a policy that provides customers with a clear timeframe for return eligibility and incentivizes them to return as quickly as possible. After all, the longer a customer holds on to their purchase before returning, the longer it will take for you to resell the product. Additionally, the longer a product is in the hands of a customer before a return, the more likely it will have to be discounted for its second sale. Offering free return within the first 15 days of a 30-day policy is a great way to incentivize a customer to return the product quickly.
5. Let Customers Know Where They Can Return
Dropping off returns can be an involved process when you don’t know where to go, especially around the holiday season. By providing locations and information on where to drop off the packages in your return policy, you help customers determine the best course of action for their returns. If you ship with UPS, there are over 4,000 UPS stores in the United States, along with their UPS Access Point Network in stores like CVS, Michaels, and Advance Auto Parts where customers can drop off packages. If you offer USPS shipping, customers can give their return to their mail carrier or drop it off at any Post Office.