eCommerce customer service: What is a good return policy?

eCommerce customer service: What is a good return policy?


Written by Starshipit

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 instil 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 they will go with a competitor instead. In business, and especially in the e-commerce market, returns are a vitally important part of the sales cycle.

Amazon parcel

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.

Returns policy: An buying important factor

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 realise.

eCommerce and shipping automation

Statistics on eCommerce returns

  • 40% of shoppers regularly over-order online, with the expectation to make returns
  • The holy grail of the online shopping experience is a ‘try before you buy’ option. In fact, 57% of consumers would be likely/very likely to use this service if it was offered
  • For retailers with a brick and mortar offering, customers wish to return to a store at any location.
  • For online retailers, a 30-90 day returns window is a must for 51% of customers
  • A growing number of online shoppers (15% last year as compared to just 2% in 2016), feel valued when the store remembers their preferred delivery options
  • 68% of Millennials utilise up to 7 delivery loyalty programmes, with 27% of shoppers belonging to at least 1
  • 86% of shoppers say a ‘VIP’ type loyalty membership would motivate them to shop more often

Returns in eCommerce

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.

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.

For more information on how to develop a great returns policy, check out this article by Shoplo.

Starshipit integrates with leading platforms and couriers

How shipping apps make a difference

Managing returns can be complex for an e-commerce company, especially with the added burden of shipping expectations. Luckily, shipping apps like Starshipit are here to take the weight off your shoulders.

Rather than coordinating the shipping process on your own, they 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 centre.

Options for returns with Starshipit

Starshipit offers two convenient options for return management based on your unique needs. You can either automatically email a return label when an item is shipped, pack a return label in with each shipment, or customers can generate their own labels using a self-service portal.

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 CouriersPlease.

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?

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