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How to Optimise Your Returns Process

According to Kissmetrics¹, it’s 7x times more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to focus on the ones you already have, and with a staggering 84% of people who won’t reshop with a business if the returns process was bad, it’s absolutely critical to ensure your returns process is smooth and seamless.

Returns are no longer a possibility and just another cost, they are a customer confidence factor and have a huge impact on customer retention and loyalty. A recent study from Brightpearl² indicates that a full 25% of online shoppers in the U.S. and U.K. have bought multiple items with the intention of sending them back, without the ability to try on a product in online shopping, returns are essential.

In this week’s episode of our podcast, Everything eCommerce, we talked with Cormac Cahill of Klarna, and one of the key points raised was that businesses need to ensure that their returns process is smooth. You’ve done so much to get them to this point, from marketing the product to optimising your checkout process, so what can you do to improve the after-sales experience?

  • Make the returns process smooth

According to Invesp, 92% of customers will buy again if returns are easy, and retailers tell us their customers will spend 50% more when they buy again following an easy return, so it makes sense to get this process as simple as possible for them.

Instead of making the customer fill out tons of different forms and type in barcodes, allow them a simple fix for returns. This could be logging into their account and letting you know what they are going to return, or even just ticking a box in the receipt you sent out.

Keeping your customer up to date throughout the process is also key. Let them know when you receive the return, the expected refund date, and when the money is getting sent to them. This keeps them in the loop and increases trust in your business.

Keeping a liberal returns policy is also a key way to do this. It may seem like an inconvenience to extend the returns window, but because of something called the endowment effect, customers who hold onto a product longer connect with the product a lot more and are more likely to keep it or forget to return it.

  • Offer Solutions Yourself

When it comes to shopping, every customer is different, and everyone expects something different from a business. Some people are happy to take an item to the post office, some have a newborn baby and need someone to collect from their home, others are able to take it to a pickup point. 

Being aware of who your customers are and what their lifestyles allow is key here. Allowing for as many options for return as possible is a great way to show your customers that you are taking their lives into account.

You can offer home collection, print at home labels in case your customer loses them, labels included, post office pickup, QR codes and more. It may seem like a lot of work, but keeping your customers happy is essential.

  • Provide a free returns label

In a recent Shippo survey, 54% of shoppers said that free returns is a large deciding factor when comparing different merchants. Diving even deeper, 34% of shoppers said that they will only purchase items if they know that they can ship them back for free. However, only 14% of retailers offer free return shipping, and a whopping 60% make absolutely no effort to help consumers ship the returns back.

Adding a free returns label can be a massive bonus for a customer, it gives them the confidence that they’re not wasting money if a product isn’t right for them, and

  • Use returns to gather data

Although not strictly speaking for your customers, using the returns process as a means to gather data can benefit them in the long run.

By logging reasons for returns and the types of products returned, you can offer simple solutions to reduce this. For example, if the same dress is returned over and over with the ‘wrong size’ option checked, consider adding a size guide or updating the product description if it runs small. 

Using returns can also be a great way to get customer feedback. This can be reviews or user-generated content such as on social media. When other potential customers see how easy your returns process was for someone, they’ll be more likely to buy. 

  • Live Chat

A great way to utilise live chat is for customer support, and this can be a massive help when it comes to the returns process. A study by PWC, 1st Financial Training³ found that 91% of consumers who are not satisfied with the quality of service they received from a company’s support team never come back.

By adding a live chat feature, you give the customer the reassurance that they can ask for help whenever they need it. It could be as simple as asking the chat agent questions about the returns process there on chat to save them time browsing the site, or it could be having a team to handle returns in chat.

A discussion in chat allows a personalised, tailored experience for the customer which is bound to create a positive impression of your business, as well as providing an opportunity to gather more data than you usually would through just a simple form.

By creating this personal experience, you can be sure that the customer will feel validated, cared for and be more likely to return.

Final Thoughts

Returns are no longer just a possibility, with more people than ever using online shopping as a means to try items and send them back, ensuring your returns process is as smooth as possible can be the difference between a returning customer, and one who will go elsewhere. 

Find out more about how live chat can support your returns process with a satisfaction rate of 98%.

Watch our full episode of Everything eCommerce here.

¹https://blog.kissmetrics.com/retaining-customers/

²https://info.brightpearl.com/returns-tsunami-for-retail

³https://99firms.com/blog/live-chat-statistics/#gref