As you are selling online through your ecommerce store, you are pretty much known about shipping cost and return issue. Return and refund is very much common yet one of the most critical issue for ecommerce to handle. While ecommerce system is like a win-win situation where your goal is to make profit and your customers aim is to win when making deal, return and refund policy can make the whole scenario jeopardized.
How? Let’s say you have a free shipping policy and what will you do when your customers want to change or return the purchased products? Will you pay the return shipping fee for them or will demand return fees?
Return is very much known and appreciated issue in ecommerce as you are selling products to customers without showing them physically. Another thing is your customers are paying for good and best products and they will definitely look for a return if you send them a wrong or damaged product.
No matter how great your product is and how greatly you provide service to your customers, you never can satisfy customers. There is always people who will complain and make question about your product and services. And that’s why you need to make your return full converting.
Strict return policy or no return policy can hurt your business as return itself a way of increasing conversion. Many leading brands have changed their no return policy to easy and acceptable return which ultimately help them to boost their sales and conversion.
Return shipping pricing options
Actually there is no definite way of pricing return shipping as it depends how you want to handle your return. But there is off course a few stander options depend on which you can implement pricing on your return policy.
These options are-
It is actually up to you which one you will choose to implement for your return shipping policy. As ecommerce selling is all about customers’ experience and allowing free return is a great way to improve your UX. But doing this you have to bear a large share of costs that may harm your business. Again making customers to pay the cost for your mistakes is not good and it is against your business ethics. The rest is the option where both you and your customers bear the equal share of the costs of return shipping.
Whether way you choose to imply keep in mind that, return is converting and you should treat it as a sale tool not just like “you have to deal with it.”
How to handle return
Here are seven most effective ways to handle your return without making loss.
Your return policy is not only for satisfying your customers, it is actually for increasing your conversion. It is a sales tool too. You can get the best result from a return if you know exactly how to leverage the situation.
When customers come to you to return the purchased product or products, don’t just say sorry or let them leave with a broken heart. It is your time to make a new sale! You can use return as an opportunity to upsell your other products. For example, if a customer comes in to exchange a product, offer him/ her additional or accessories products in their exchange shipment at a discount. You can also offer new and upcoming products by offering a discounted shipping cost.
What if your customers will not return your products? Is it going to happen? Off course, if your product offers something that your customers will loss when return them. It is the ultimate trick to reduce returns.
Customers return or intend to return products if they find it unmatched or damaged. But some customers always get confused and try to return just after receive the shipped products. In that case, make your product deals conditional and make these “always unsatisfied” customers feel losing something with exchange or returning the product. For example, if you give discounts on a product than withdraw the discount and demand full price when a customer tries to return or exchange that product. This will make the product sticky, and that customers will not want to return or exchange that product as doing so the customer will lose the discount opportunity and will have to pay the full price.
If you don’t have a time frame for allowing returns, then immediately add a certain time limit in your return policy. The time frame could be 30 days, or 300 days or even 1000 days! It is up to you so is your conversion and revenue!
Many ecommerce retailers complain that their customers ask for return even after six to seven months of receiving delivered products! This is absolutely ridiculous. But in ecommerce it is quite common, as customers are purchasing your products without having a single clue about it.
Clearly mention a definite time limit for return or refund and include this in your return instruction. It is better to clarify the requirements of return such as product condition, packaging and accessories that comes with products and some other details.
It is better to include clear return instruction in delivery package so that customers don’t have to look into your site for return instruction.
Many retailers make the return hard and keep it unclear to customers. That can hurt your overall purchasing process as customers don’t act loyally when they become confused about your action. When you include a return envelope with shipping it will be reminding your customers about your return policy. It will also make yourself clear to your customers and hence increase your customers’ experience.
Flat return shipping is a better way to handle return instead of offering free return. If you offer free shipping on return, then you have to bare all the costs associate with return. This will ultimately increase your overall shipping costs and trust me you don’t want to pay for shipping more than what you earn.
Most of online retailers use flat rate shipping on return where they charge a fixed shipping fee for every customer on any amount of product they want to return. It is actually an attractive option of return among small to medium business. For example, you can offer $5 flat rate shipping on return for any volume of order.
You can set your flat rate return shipping fee according to your product delivery shipping such as, half of total shipping, or quarter of total fees.
People loves free return, and you will too!
Free return is a great motivator for shoppers and customers and is a great marketing tool to retain your customers. According to a study, consumers check out ecommerce businesses that offer a return policy with no return fees.
Free return is not only converting it also has a great impact on customer experience. According to a study, 51% online consumers prefer free shipping and 89% would like to shop again after having a positive return process. Free return can be a powerful tool when targeting particular groups of consumers and it is most beneficial for fashion and clothing retails.
You can also set your own free return rules where customers will be eligible for getting free return when only they meet certain condition. This will help you to control the shipping costs and product return too.
When a customer comes to you to return a product, that person can be an opportunity to sell more products and to earn more profit.
Customers can demand return for silly reason, such as “the red is not RED!”, or “the size is not what expected” or even after they have broken or damaged the products. But you have to deal with them carefully keep in mind that they are your priority and your opportunity to sell more products.
Do not treat the equally, if a particular customer does the above more than once or even for tenth times, than deal that customer on an individual basis without being too strict. Ignoring or treating a single customer badly can cause a great lose- lose of handful loyal customers. This will also damage your brand value as consumers like to spread bad experience through social media.
So, if you do want long term customer retention, then it is better not to argue with your valued customers on return.
Easy and customer-friendly return is cost effective as it helps you to reduce shipping costs with additional return based costs. It is also important for your marketing and to retain customers for longer terms. Unclear return policy and shipping mishandling and return shipping pricing causes a potential loss of customer loyalty. Remember, when you are selling online, you have make your customers’ mood of purchasing favorable to your business and that’s why you must let them have the best out of their invest.