Returns: A Growth Industry, Part 1 of 2
In the first part of a two-part series examining the value of convenient and cost-effective return policies for multichannel merchants, this week I provide tips on how to make company guarantees more effective, as well as looking at the benefit of determining why your customers are returning products.
Most consumers perceive the returns process to be a big hassle. Everyone who’s ever bought a product via mail order has at least one horror story about trying to return an item. But, I’ve also heard the opposite. In fact, I’ve heard people brag about how easy the return process is when they’ve had an exceptional experience. Personally, I’m always pleasantly surprised when something I return goes smoothly.
You must have a clear, concise return policy with exceptional customer service when handling returns if you want to compete today. And with the emergence of multichannel marketing, that return policy needs to be seamless throughout all your channels no matter where the purchase is made.
Take a close look at your guarantee. Can it be stated easily? If it’s too complicated, make it simpler. Make it so easy to understand that if you read it to children, they’d instantly get it.
Also ask yourself these two questions:
* Do you state your guarantee and return policy clearly?
* Is it easy to find?
Try this test: Ask someone not in your organization (because I know you’re aware of your own policies) to find them and report back to you. You may be surprised in what you hear.
If your customers feel your guarantee is solid, they perceive less risk when ordering. By reducing the risk, you make it easier for customers to say “yes” to your offering.
You’re Returning This Because?
Most companies’ enterprise software helps track why customers return products. If you don’t know your product return reasons, learn them. By understanding the reasons why your customers return your products, you can make some powerful changes.
For example, a company I worked with analyzed its returns and discovered that the manner in which the product shots in its catalog were photographed weren’t representative of what people received in the mail. By changing how it photographed its products, the company was able to decrease its return rate. The net result: more gross profit!
Next week in the final part of this two-part series, I delve into how in-house quality control, product exchanges and catalog circulation can impact your organization’s return practices.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert or you can post a comment here or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.