As an eCommerce store, returns are inevitable. Make it easy on your customers, and they’ll likely return to purchase from your store again and again. Make it difficult and not only will they not buy from you again, but they are also likely to give your store a lousy rating and worse yet, tell their friends about their experience.
In this post, we’ll outline how to make returns simple for your customers and your warehouse team handling them.
1. Write and Publish a Clear Return Policy
If you don’t have one already, write and publish a clear return policy. Be sure to publish this on your website, perhaps on a FAQ, and link to it on product pages. You can also require buyers to read it before processing a payment for an online purchase.
2. Avoid Returns by Making Fewer Shipment Errors
If your warehouse staff are properly trained and processes are automated via your eCommerce platform, you’ll decrease the chance of human error. If you automatically print pick lists that include lot and bin numbers, warehouse employees are less likely to mistakenly omit a product or include an incorrect one. Automate, automate and automate!
3. Include a Pre-Paid Shipping Label with Each Package
Include a pre-paid shipping label with each package. This should be automatically printed and included with each package. Make it part of the pick and ship list for each package and employees will know that there should be one included in every box. If you don’t pre-print the return shipping label, allow the customer to print it at home if you require they register their return online.
4. Allow the Customer to Keep the Item but Provide a Refund
You’ll want to choose a maximum dollar threshold for doing this, one that falls below the same cost to have your customer return the item. If the cost to return the item is more than the value of the item, it may make sense to tell the customer to keep it, give them a refund and allow them to easily order a replacement. You can give your customer these options when they go online to request a return.
5. Keep the Customer Informed on the Status of their Return
Just as you kept your customer informed when their order was fulfilled, shipped and delivered, do the same for their return. Give them the option to receive updates via email or text that their return was received and when their refund was issued. Communication is key in this step of the process.
6. Ask Why the Return is Being Requested
This might seem counterintuitive and like you’re asking the customer to do more work and while you are, it’s information that can help you reduce the number of returns. By asking why a customer is returning an item, you’ll learn things like whether the sizing is off or if the product page needs more details about the item. Tell your customers this is why you’re asking for this information and they’ll be more likely to help you by providing this information.
7. Give Your Customers the Option to Ship or Return In Store
If you also operate brick and mortar stores in addition to your online store, you should give your customers the option to return the item in-store even if they didn’t purchase it there. Why? This might be easier than heading to the post office to drop off their return and it’s your chance to get them in your store where they may be able to find the size they need plus more.