This New Year, your top resolution as an ecommerce entrepreneur should be to fix your return policy. Yep, forget about cool new marketing tactics and growth hacking (for now). A generous return policy, when properly advertised, can actually drive future ecommerce sales and establish repeat customers. Studies show that of the 60% of online shoppers that make at least one return or exchange per year, 95% will make another purchase if the return experience was positive. Make it your goal in 2016 to ensure a positive return experience for your buyers. Fix these 4 errors with your return policy, and drive better sales and build buyer loyalty.
Problem: Your policy is so confusing, buyers need a lawyer present just to follow.
Resolution: Make your return policy clear and easy to understand.
Many ecommerce retailers make the mistake of creating a return policy that is hard to grasp. This is mostly done unintentionally, but there are some retailers who purposefully write a vague, confusing return policy in hopes of deterring buyers from attempting a return. Don’t do that. Instead, clearly outline the rules regarding returns. Give buyers a list of what you’ll provide (like return postage, for example), whether or not you accept returns at your brick and mortar location (if you have one), and contact info, in case they need further assistance. Step-by-step instructions for how to complete a return will make the process simple for customers, and may prevent delays in processing the return.
Problem: It requires a search and rescue team to find the return policy on your site.
Resolution: Make your policy location so obvious, it can be seen from space.
Retailers will often unintentionally bury a link to their return policy on their site. That said, there are the few that think if buyers can’t find out how to make a return, they just won’t bother. Problem is, this kind of thinking will frustrate customers, causing them to leave poor reviews or give up on your brand entirely. Making the site location of your return policy painfully obvious, however, will communicate to buyers that you care about whether or not they were satisfied with their order, and that you’re going to make it easy on them to file a return. It’s not just hearsay to claim that it matters to buyers whether or not they feel a business cares about them. A reported 68% of customers will stop supporting a brand if they feel that company is indifferent towards them. Lead your buyers to the return policy, and they will remain loyal to your brand.
Problem: You charge buyers return postage if they want to return an item.
Resolution: Hand out free returns like an Oprah giveaway (You get a return! You get a return! Everyone gets a return!)
Offering free returns assures buyers that you do care about them (and pacifies the 68% that would leave you if you didn’t). Aside from providing buyers with great customer service, it makes good business sense. Zappos offers free shipping both ways. Here’s why: Craig Adkins, Zappos VP of Services and Operations, shared that customers buying the most expensive shoes also have a 50% return rate. While that number may seem a little steep at first, consider this: when I perform a two-second search on Zappos.com for Women’s Heels and filter the results to show the highest prices first, Zappos provides me with a lengthy page of shoes priced well into the thousands – the first one cashing in at $2,795. To get an estimate of what shipping charges Zappos might incur to ship those shoes, I did a quick search on Amazon for women’s shoes. Based on those results, it would cost around $6 to ship these shoes to my address (with standard shipping). Given the data Adkins shared, if two customers bought the nearly $3k shoes, and one of those buyers returned the pair, Zappos would likely be eating under $20 in shipping costs. $20 bucks for a thousand-dollar sale is not bad – especially when that customer is 95% likely to shop from Zappos again. Whatever you may lose on the return, you will more than make up for it in return sales.
Problem: You think saying it once is enough.
Resolution: You remind your buyers that you care by including return instructions in all packages.
Don’t let your website be the only place where you provide buyers with detailed return instructions. Even though your policy should now be easy to find on your site, not all buyers will check there. Some aren’t tech savvy. Others just don’t want to spend the time looking for it. Make it super easy for these buyers by inserting a note in your packages that reiterates your return policy and process, as well as the best way to get in contact with your support team. The more transparent you are with your return policy, the better. Letting buyers feel like you have their back in the event of them needing a return, and that you’re going to make it easy on them, will establish buyer trust. In an online world where eRetail lacks the face-to-face “hello” of brick and mortar shopping, buyer trust is how we steward repeat customers.
A transparent, easy-to-follow and readily available return policy yields greater buyer trust, which means better sales and a prosperous start to the year. Make it your new year’s resolution to shape up your return policy, and enjoy the benefits it will bring year-round.