Last Updated: December 2023
A quick and easy return policy, or what we call ‘Frictionless Returns,’ stands as one of the biggest differentiators for e-commerce brands today.. This has been proven in a study conducted by Customer Experience Optimization (CXO) analytics specialist, Narvar. They found that 70% of online shoppers considered an easy returns process an important factor for future purchases with the same brand. Not only that, it also found that most customers expect free shipping on returns. After years of resisting the extra costs this entailed, brands are now coming around to the view that an easy return policy can boost sales and customer retention in the long run.
There is no easy way to put this; returns are a fact of life. As customer preferences change, it is common for them to return items within days. According to Shopify, this figure is as high as 42%, in some cases. In e-commerce circles, this trend is popularly known as bracketing or ‘buy-to-try’. Returns represent a challenge for businesses in terms of tied-up inventory and logistics costs.
Many fulfillment centers find tracking returns to be a challenge which results in a lot of inventory being wasted. Customers have reasons of their own for returning newly ordered items: According to SalesCycle, over 80% of customers returned items that were damaged or broken in 2020. 64.2% did so because the items did not match descriptions while only 37.2% of customers ever sent back their orders because they did not like the item.
This means that online stores have a lot of catching up to do in terms of product quality and creating better product descriptions. Needless to say, the customer experience impact of these two factors can be quite significant. The stakes are only getting higher with the upcoming holiday season which usually sees an uptick in ‘Where’s My Refund?’ queries from customers.
Waiting for weeks for online refunds is not something most customers are willing to put up with. However, with the right strategy, online businesses can leverage returns to create better customer engagement and increase average order size over a period of time.
5 Easy Ideas to Make Your Return Policy User-Friendly
In this article, we will discuss how to create and execute an efficient and user-friendly returns policy that will give customers an outstanding experience.
1. Make your returns policy more visible:
More often than not, customers are curious to know whether they would be able to return an item they are considering buying at no extra cost. Make it easy for them to find this information by linking the return policy section of your website to the product page as well as the home page. A rule of thumb is that shoppers should be able to access it in no more than 2 clicks. Another good practice is to include return policy related details in a blurb on the check-out page or to integrate a ‘Chat with Us’ widget for instant answers. Finally, refer to your returns policy in a post-purchase confirmation email that is sent to a customer.
2. Avoid the use of complicated language or technical jargon
Keep the average customer in mind when drafting the wording of your returns policy. Complex terms can be difficult to understand in the midst of an online purchase and may result in confusion or worse, an abandoned cart. If you used a template to create your returns policy or borrowed it from some other site, it may be time to rewrite it so that it makes sense for your target audience. A simple list of terms and conditions saves time and effort for the customer too.
3. Don’t forget about international customers
When shipping an order to a customer overseas, there are additional customs fees, duties, and taxes that are applicable. These are payable by the customer when his order arrives in-country. In some cases, these costs can be as much as or greater than the actual value of the order. Spell out clearly whether the cost of shipping is included in your list price or will be additional, in case you do offer international shipping. Ensure that you are aware of country-specific shipping restrictions to avoid customer impact.
4. Minimize escalations by stating what cannot be returned
To avoid misunderstanding or possible fraud, ensure that your return policy clearly specifies the return window. Emphasize the conditions under which a returned product will not be accepted such as tampering or damage. Given the shipping delays caused by the coronavirus crisis, any exceptions to your standard shipping window must be clearly communicated. If you offer an exchange on select items but not on others- such as software, music, or e-books – clearly identify those that are not covered under the terms of exchange.
5. Update your FAQ page periodically
A dedicated FAQ page for returns is a great way to provide returns related information for specific products. Curate information under carefully structured headers to make it easier for customers to find information. Amazon is the de-facto gold standard when it comes to creating comprehensive FAQs. You can also check out the FAQ pages of other e-commerce giants like Walmart or Zappos for inspiration.
Adding an on-page chat option can make it easier for customers to navigate and get a better understanding of your FAQ policy. The result: transparency and improved customer confidence.
Customer service has a key role to play when it comes to managing customer concerns about your returns policy. During peak season, it is critical for you to have enough customer support agents to drive sales. For a small online business, this can be a challenge, especially with the current pandemic. Helplama’s team of experts can help you step up to the demand and create exceptional experiences for your customers, consistently and reliably.
Additionally, with Helplama Helpdesk, you can improve the efficiency of your customer service tea. Along with automated workflows, this software also offers proactive customer care for delayed orders and a fully automated returns gateway. Furthermore, all of this can be availed for customized pricing plans starting from $99/month.
So, what are you waiting for?