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 been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.