4 Tips for Better Ecommerce Returns and Exchanges

More than 60 percent of online shoppers returned or exchanged at least one thing in 2013, up from about 51 percent in 2012. Significantly, about 95 percent of consumers will return to an internet merchant and make additional purchases following a positive return or exchange experience, making handling the process important for ecommerce success.

Exchanges and returns will likely be a hot topic for online retailers as Christmas present recipients contact vendors in the aftermath of an exceptional holiday selling season. These Christmas gift recipients might want to swap and return unwanted gifts, items which are the incorrect size, or even things which might have been damaged in transit.

Endicia, the postage supplier, reports that returns and exchanges are increasing for internet merchants.

ComScore, the trend tracking firm, reported yesterday that background ecommerce (excluding travel and mobile ecommerce) totaled about $37.8 billion at the U.S. for the first 45 days of the Christmas shopping season. Overall spending since Thanksgiving, comScore reported, has been up about 21 percent over 2012, reaching $19.2 billion in U.S. desktop ecommerce paying for the period. This growth in earnings will also represent an increase in returns and exchanges.

Returns and exchanges are important for building long term customer relationships, with some 95 percent of shoppers return to online merchants that have provided a fantastic exchange or return experience before, based on data from Endicia, a digital postage solution provider. Conversely, about 85 percent of customers won’t return to an internet shop after a bad return or exchange experience, again based on Endicia.

What follows are four strategies for offering a much better exchange or return experience for online shoppers.

1. State Return and Exchange Policies Certainly

Let customers know precisely what to expect from the return and exchange procedure. Post clear, simple-to-understand policies onto a page of the website specifically designated for shipping or returns policies.

Online merchant Zappos is an exceptional example of how to create returns seem simple for shoppers. The business has a dedicated returns page, lists its coverage in bullet points, and even includes a video which explains how to complete a return using Zappos’ self-service model.

Zappos has a committed returns page, set its coverage in bullet points and such as a movie.

It’s worth noting a few things about Zappos’ return policy. To begin with, every return is free of charge. While every individual online retail company will have to examine the financial effect of a free return policy, taking the cost from sending back a product can go a long way toward creating loyal customers for life.

Zappos also has to accept returns with no questions asked for as much as a year after the purchase.

2. Offer Return Instructions or a Return Label in Each Purchase

Shoppers don’t need to await return labels. In actuality, about 62 percent of online shoppers want a return label included in the first shipment, based on Endicia. Including a return label isn’t difficult, and lots of online sellers might realize that the ability to do this is built right into the merchant’s ecommerce platform or can be obtained via an expansion to the ecommerce platform.

Another option is to provide shoppers a simple, self-service means to print a return label from the website. This self-service option doesn’t require the client to contact the shipper for authorization or await an emailed label. According to the Endicia data, about 61 percent of shoppers will be happy with a simple way to print exchange or return labels.

3. Know the Cost of Returning

A guitarist for a favorite party and occasion band recently purchased a new guitar strap from a merchant on the Amazon marketplace. Regrettably, there was an error in the shipment, and the merchant apparently sent a shorter strap than anticipated. If this guitarist contacted the seller about a market, he had been advised that a new strap could be sent that day and that he could only maintain the smaller strap.

This solution was great for the client, who did not need to repackage the strap or arrange for a carrier to pick it up. He had been generally happy with the experience. This was probably also better for the merchant, who would have only managed to purchase a new guitar strap from its distributor for roughly the same cost has the strap returned.

To make this form of business decision, it’s important to comprehend the actual cost of handling a customer return, including the cost of the transport and the labour necessary for processing the return once it arrives back in the vendor’s warehouse. If it cost as much or almost as much to return the thing as it would to simply buy another one wholesale, think about letting the consumer only keep it, saving everyone involved time and cost.

4. Create an Opportunity

Returns and exchanges are also a chance to create additional sales. As stated previously, about 95 percent of shoppers will go back to an online shop and create another purchase following a positive return or exchange experience.

Similarly, roughly 45 percent of shoppers will really suggest an ecommerce merchant, again based on Endicia, after a positive yield experience, meaning that taking care of an present clients could lead to new clients too.

Think about sending each shopper that returns or exchanges a product a follow-up email, requesting comments about the experience. Identify methods to enhance the return process, and business in general will improve also.