How to Streamline Your e-Commerce Returns
Running an online business presents many potential opportunities for financial windfalls, as well as many potential pitfalls. While these extremes can and do occur, the majority of the routine revolves around the mundane – processing orders, fielding questions, arranging payment solutions and dealing with complaints. One form of “complaint” – while not always indicative of dissatisfaction – is the desire to return an item. In the online world, returning an item from the customer’s perspective is simultaneously easier and more difficult in various ways. In order to streamline the returns process for both you and your customers, we have put together a list of a few simple tips that will assist in the process.
Clarify and Promote Your Return Policy
While many brands aren’t exactly excited about having to handle a return, the process cannot be prevented. The best way to handle this is to be straightforward; you should have a separate and easily visible page that deals with the returns process (the more pages you have, the more you’ll be pinging for SEO). On this page, you’ll want to clearly state the requirements that will need to be met on the customer’s end before it can be initiated successfully. In exchange, including a fun graphic with details and step-by-step instructions can help reduce the number of questions and follow-ups you’ll need to answer and provide in order to get the process going. An online interface for initiating the returns process is crucial; nobody should have to email or call you to receive this customer service.
Provide Labels and Updates
A customer who is returning an item may not be irate with you. Perhaps they ordered or received the wrong item, or maybe it was purchased as a gift that didn’t go over so well. In any case, making the overall process smooth for your customers will ensure more repeat business than you might think. The best return systems make customers’ lives easier by automatically generating a ticket and a digital shipping label that can be printed or taken to a logistics provider. This way, the customer can take action immediately in returning the item and overall costs (such as mailing them a return box or forcing them to cover the charge) are minimized between both parties. With a ticket and order tracking system connected to the shipping label, you and your customer alike will be able to monitor the process of the return, from the shipment of the item by the customer to the successful replacement or refund being delivered to the customer.
Collecting information as to why your customers are returning their items is essential. When done properly, you’ll be able to get an idea of what exactly is causing the bulk of your returns. Much like pinging for SEO can yield a variety of data points about how to improve search performance, pinging customers for return information will help you streamline your business approach even more in the future.
In order to make your life and those of your customers easier, the return process should be simple and straightforward. In order to do this, be sure to advertise clearly the process for doing so. Next, implement as much automation and convenience into the equation to ensure you and your customers are informed. Finally, be sure to determine the reasons behind why the return was necessary, which can help you improve customer service in the future.