3 Tips for Improving Your Returns Process
Delivery and returns can have a strong influence on consumers’ online purchasing decisions as well as their overall impressions of a retailer. Therefore, it’s essential for businesses to consider the full, end-to-end experience that consumers encounter when shopping online. Staying competitive in today’s e-commerce environment requires that retailers meet consumers’ high expectations for transparency, ease and accuracy throughout the entire purchase cycle, from start to finish.
Findings from the MetaPack 2017 State of Ecommerce Delivery research revealed that consumers have come to expect simple and seamless processes for receiving goods and returning them if they change their minds. This is to the extent that retailers will lose revenue if they don’t get their returns policies right. Can your business afford this risky proposition?
Returns are the next differentiation battlefield in e-commerce. To ensure you optimize the returns process and, simultaneously, the overall customer experience, here are three recommendations:
1. Make returns policies and processes clear.
Online consumers want the most simple and transparent returns process possible, but this isn't always provided by retailers. As MetaPack’s aforementioned report revealed, 53 percent of U.S. shoppers said they always check out a retailer’s returns policy before completing their online purchases. It's therefore vital that returns options are clearly available and straightforward on a retailer’s website. Otherwise, you risk annoying consumers and potentially losing business.
2. Present a variety of return options to provide customers a choice.
Consumers have made it clear that they want the power to choose, and that applies to how they would like to return their goods purchased online as well. While mail is still a top method of choice, many consumers like the idea of pick-up/drop-off parcel points (PUDOs) as well as drop-off at a retailer’s store. Provide a range of options to suit customer preferences.
3. Premium prices for convenient returns are not a big attraction.
Most customers want to pay the minimum or return their products for free. MetaPack findings have shown that the majority of consumers surveyed would not be willing to pay more for a premium returns service. Simple and clear returns processes with a variety of options are more important to bolstering customer satisfaction.
It’s evident that returns policies and procedures play an important role in the competition for revenue and loyalty in e-commerce. Returning or exchanging products purchased online is a regular occurrence for shoppers, and just like with delivery propositions, brands and retailers need to consider returns as a key element of their wider delivery strategy to optimize the customer experience. Thinking about the approach to returns as part of their overall sales process will enable businesses to remain competitive and align themselves with evolving shopper demands.
Michael Manlapas is the U.S. vice president and general manager of MetaPack, a delivery management technology provider.
Related story: Retailers Must Get Delivery Right, or Risk Losing Customers
Michael Manlapas is U.S. vice president and general manager of MetaPack. With 20 years of experience with enterprise software focused on retail operation, his responsibilities at MetaPack include overseeing the staff and day-to-day functions of the organization in the U.S.