On April 28th, 2017, Shippo will be hosting their inaugural shipping summit in San Francisco. They will be sharing actionable insights and strategies on topics such as eCommerce returns, going global, and utilizing free shipping as a marketing tool to help businesses do more with shipping.
According to NRF, 30% of all products ordered online are returned compared to only 8% of those purchased at brick-and-mortar stores. Returns are simply part of the operations of an eCommerce business.
While returns are inevitable, online businesses can take measures to minimize the impact they have.
A recent Shippo survey shows that most eCommerce retailers offer absolutely no effort to help buyers with returns, while shoppers find free returns a large decision factor in the purchasing process.
Creating a seamless return process is your opportunity to stand out from the competition. Here are 5 tactics to help eCommerce businesses gain their competitive advantage.
Have a Clear Return Policy and Procedure
Keep it simple, clear, and explicit to ensure that everyone understands them. Don’t forget to:
- Outline expectations on what customers can expect from returns. Figure out what works best for your business and customer base.
- Specify the return procedure. Who need to pay, return window, packaging etc.
- Educate your team to make sure that everyone can navigate the process quickly and effectively.
- Be fair, if you’ve made a mistake make it right regardless of the official policy.
Utilize Shipping Technology
Create a seamless return experience with existing shipping technology.
- Scan-based return labels are shipping labels that you can slip right into the box. You won’t get charged unless the label is used.
- Leverage shipment tracking data to notify customers that their returns arrived safely and trigger their refund. This can reduce anxiety for customers and reduce questions such as “where’s my refund” from your support inbox.
Consider your Packaging
Try reusable packaging like poly mailers so that customers don’t have to scrounge around for packaging at home. Proper shipping packaging can also protect returns from getting damaged.
Even if your customer returns an item, it doesn’t mean they won’t purchase again. Consider inserting thoughtful and cost effective package inserts to increase loyalty such as:
- Discount offers
- Product samples
- Product review requests
- Thank-you notes
Analyze Return Data
Avoid returns by examining why items are being sent back. If a customer has already decided to return an item, make sure that they have ample opportunity to provide their feedback. Often times they can be simple changes you can update to prevent returns in the future, like:
- Incorrect product or size ordered
- Product didn’t match description
- Company shipped incorrect product
Deal with Exceptions
There will always be exception that require extra attention. If you’re dealing with international orders, selling on marketplaces, or using a dropshipper, take another look at how you handle returns for those customers. It’s alright to have different policies for each, so long as you outline them clearly in your return policy.
Dive into any of these 5 steps within Shippo’s whitepaper: Optimizing Ecommerce Returns. Continue to impress and gain customer loyalty after they hit “buy” and make returns your competitive advantage.
Shippo provides a multi-carrier API and dashboard to help platforms and merchants get real-time rates, print labels, automate international paperwork, track packages and facilitate returns. Shippo provides the building blocks for shipping.