Sales & Marketing

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Why returns can mean big business

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According to recent research by Metapack, 83 per cent of customers would shop more regularly with a retailer if the returns process were easy to understand. With the value of returned products from online purchases on the rise, customers want the flexibility to purchase and return items at their own convenience. Getting returns right is a simple way to ensure customer satisfaction and give buyers the peace of mind they need to turn browsing to buying. 

Transparent communication about returns policies can improve conversion rates and bolster profit. First, make sure your returns policy is easy to find, along with a returns link on the home page. The policy itself should be simple, short and expressed in customer-friendly language. And don’t underestimate the power of design. Small formatting changes, such as section breaks, can help customers find the information they need more easily. 

While having a solid return policy is a plus, the ability to execute on it quickly and efficiently is essential. A good experience with a retailer, even if it’s through a return, has the potential to lead the customer to another purchase. Think through your processes and see where you can make it more straightforward for the customer. For example, personalised returns labels are a great way to keep returns simple and show the customer you are thinking about their needs. 

Flexibility is a must for today’s shopper, and in-store returns can be a convenient alternative to shipping an item back to the retailer. Even companies without a brick-and-mortar store can take advantage of this omni-channel approach. For example, Internet Fusion, a company that sells outdoor and sports clothing and equipment online, found its customers wanted to be able to make returns in-store. Since the company is based entirely online, it uses a network of local shops, petrol stations and newsagents where customers can pick up and return their packages. This meant it could provide the best possible service without the overhead of its own brick-and-mortar stores. 

In addition to customer experience, it’s also important to process returns quickly, especially during busy periods. Services are available allowing online businesses to integrate returns service functions directly into their virtual storefront. With the system imbedded into ecommerce sites, retailers have greater visibility of stock, as each return is processed as soon as the label is scanned at pick up. Flexibility is as important for the retailer as it is for the customer. 

Any retailer will naturally be disappointed when a customer returns an item, but it is important to view it as an opportunity to win that customer’s trust. Choosing an effective, efficient and convenient returns system will go a long way to helping new customers turn into regular shoppers, whilst regular buyers continue to be just that. 

Matt Guffey, is UPS director of marketing for the UK, Ireland and Nordics.

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