Why a returns process is so important
Great customer service is an important factor in business, no matter who you are and what you have to offer. It starts with attempting to secure a sale, providing open communication, accessible customer service resources, and a user-friendly platform designed to instill confidence in even the most hesitant buyers. And, unfortunately, it seems to stop there for many businesses.
In order to truly win over customers and create a reliable base of repeat business, great customer service must carry through every step in the consumer process, from initial contact to follow up emails after a successful sale. For some companies, making a sale, any sale, is good enough, but for those with a truly strong business model, a sale is only worthwhile when the customer leaves completely satisfied.
Post-sale customer service can make or break a customer’s experience, especially if they, for any reason, need to return an item. The ease of the return process can truly influence whether a customer will choose you in the future, or whether he’ll go with a competitor instead. In business, and especially in the e-commerce market, returns are a vitally important part of the sales cycle.
Why a Return Policy Matters
If you’ve ever purchased something that didn’t fit, didn’t work, or simply wasn’t the right product after all, you know how important a return policy can be. Even the greatest merchandise in the world won’t be the right fit for every customer, and that’s okay; you can’t win them all.
In a customer survey, 91% of those interviewed indicated that a return policy is a key factor in making a purchasing decision. And why shouldn’t it be? No one wants to be forced to keep an unsuitable, broken, or erroneous product, and expecting a customer to do so will effectively eliminate any chance of additional sales in the future. When customers know they have the option of returning a product if they are not satisfied, they are more likely to take a chance on a spur of the moment purchase. Without a great process in place to reassure customers of your consistency and reliability, you could be doing more harm than you realize.
Returns in E-Commerce
A company with a brick and mortar storefront can implement a great return process easily – after all, all a customer has to do is drop by the store to make a return – but ecommerce marketplaces often prove to be more complicated. Distributing goods in the first place requires an extra expense for shipping; with customers all over the county, and potentially the world, merchandise returns require additional coordination.
In addition to shipping expectations, ecommerce companies also have additional roadblocks for consumers, requiring a better than average return policy to offset the risk of shopping without the ability to physically evaluate an item prior to purchase. As such, restrictive return policies can be extremely hindering; without an escape route, shoppers will be inclined to head elsewhere to find a comparable item to purchase.
Implementing a Great E-Commerce Return Policy
Simply permitting returns is a proper first step, but there are many questions to be answered in order to ensure the implementation of a great process. Is there a time limit on returns? Are returns acceptable for cash, or simply limited to store credit? And, most importantly of all, how can customers get unwanted merchandise back to you?
Above all else, return policies should be transparent. Do not make the process complicated or unnecessarily confusing; without easy access to return guidelines, many shoppers, especially those who are not tech-savvy, will immediately assume the worst. Pricing should also be clearly noted. It’s okay to charge customers for return shipping, but it’s not okay to keep this information from them until they attempt to return something. If possible, attempt to provide valuable perks in your process, like exchanges for cash rather than store credit, free return shipping, and easy access to support staff, in order to boost customer confidence.
How StarshipIT Makes a Difference
Managing returns can be complex for an e-commerce company, especially with the added burden of shipping expectations. Luckily, StarshipIT is here to take the weight off your shoulders. Rather than coordinating the shipping process on your own, we can make quick work of returns for both domestic and international sales, managing outbound shipments and making arrangements for potential returns before your inventory even leaves the distribution center.
We offer two convenient options for return management based on your unique needs. You can use StarshipIT to either automatically email a return label when an item is shipped, or pack a return label in with each shipment or alternatively email a return label at a later date. Check out our self service return label generator whereby you can give your customers the option to generate their own return labels.
With help from StarshipIT, you can simplify the returns process like never before, giving your customers everything necessary to send back any item at any time. From initial shipments to managing inventory returns, StarshipIT is your go-to resource for logistics support. We offer returns for our courier partners including DHL, Australia Post, StarTrack and Couriers Please.
Customer service doesn’t stop when a sale is made. Part of offering great support for your customers is facilitating every step of the process, and that means returns. A good return process can significantly influence your customers, swaying buying decisions for shoppers on the fence and building loyalty in those willing to come back. When handling the returns process is too much on your own, the StarshipIT team is happy to help, coordinating return shipping labels and shipments to ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction. If you’re not sure why you need StarshipIT, just ask yourself this: how many customers is your poor return policy costing you?