How You Handle The Online Returns Process Like A Pro

Sarah Kermalli
Sarah Kermalli Dec 01, 2016 • 4 min read
White Glove Servcie

As much as we all wish every online order would make the day of our customers, we sometimes have to face the fact that it just didn’t work out. Around the holidays, when certain surprises are bound to fall flat, the number of products heading back the way they came from may mount.

Don’t let it get you down. If you tackle the online returns process like a pro, you can build customer loyalty and improve your retention rates.

First of all, let’s hear it from a company which has mastered the art of reverse logistics to the delight of its many customers: Zappos.

Here we go:

“Our best customers have the highest returns rates, but they are also the ones that spend the most money with us and are our most profitable customers. Zappos' modus operandi is not to give its purchasers the cheapest footwear on the block, but to give them the best service: hence, a 365-day returns policy, and free two-way shipping.”

From that succinct statement, we can learn a few lessons about processing product returns:

Now is not the time to complicate things. Keep your policy as simple as possible. Make a bulleted list that gets the message across (Amazon is a great example). We’ve seen returns policies that read like legal documents. Although the purpose is likely to deter returns, you may miss out on the purchase altogether or make the customer look for a more hospitable e-commerce site next time. Since online customers can’t see or touch the products, it’s all the more important to make your policy easy to read and follow.

As strange as it may sound, a generous return policy is actually one of your primary selling points. Companies like Zappos have raised the bar so high that customers won’t look kindly upon anyone who charges too much or takes too long to process returns. Customers who may not be completely sold on a product are more likely to make the purchase anyway if they know the item can be easily returned. Make sure to post a prominent link to the return policy on your product pages and include information on returns in post-purchase e-mails.

Again, Zappos leads the way. However, free returns are still more the exception than the rule. Amazon, for example, deducts the cost of shipping from the refund but also processes the refund before the return is even received. Either way, you shouldn’t add penalties to the return. And if you’re able to offer free returns, advertise it front and center on your homepage.

Customers want to know their returns make it back to you. By providing labels for print and contracting with a reputable carrier, you can ensure that your customers are able to follow the safe return of their orders from the comfort of their homes. They will thank you for it by coming back to you for more.

eShipper can help you with returns this holiday season (and any other time too, of course). We specialize in connecting you with the best carriers and most competitive rates. Click here to learn more about us or contact us for more information.

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