Director of Sales and Strategic Partnerships at ReadyCloud, the Shipping, Returns, Growth Marketing and CRM Suite built for eCommerce.
Managed improperly, returns can become a plague on any ecommerce retailer, but they do not have to be. Rather than seeing a return as an inevitable loss, retailers should seek the reason as to why the product was returned and use this insight to create the opportunity for a second-chance sale during the returns process, as I’ve written on previously.
The overall return rate was 10.6% with an estimated $428 billion in merchandise returned in 2020 according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). With such a large number of returns, businesses could quickly begin suffering losses if they don’t start reconverting customers who are making returns.
Implementing the following five tactics in your organization can reconvert customers as they navigate their returns process—while padding the bottom line of your online business.
1. Ask why the item is being returned.
Before offering a solution, you will need to determine the reason for the return. Empathize with the customer and listen to their needs. Implement a process that asks customers their reason for returning their item. You can utilize a microsite for the customer to input information during the returns process. Or, if the item is being returned by mail, consider including a survey in the packaging asking the same questions.
2. Set up a return merchandise authorization.
The customer will now have to contact your business online, through email or over the phone before making a return. This gives you the opportunity to offer another solution, potentially saving a sale. If you have an automated returns system in place, you can define the reasons of the return and even request photos and prompts in advance for your support team to approve, if you so choose.
3. Suggest an alternative.
Once the reason for return is identified, attempt to suggest an alternative. If the purchase was clothing and the color or fit was off, you could suggest a more suitable item. If that fails, try cross-selling by letting the customer know about deals on other merchandise that they may be interested in which could save the sale.
4. Monitor which products are being returned.
If the same item is being returned consistently, understanding the reason can give you the ability to combat the problem head on. Identifying whether the item is defective, overpriced or simply doesn’t match up with advertising will enable you to address the issue and prevent returns in the future.
5. Consider offering a gift card or store credit.
If a customer is intent on making a return, you can finally consider offering gift cards or store credit. You could also consider enforcing a policy in which returns can be redeemed as store credit only.
A clear and easy returns process is crucial.
Ensuring that your business’ return process is quick and hassle-free will empower customers to follow through with a secondary purchase. In fact, 92% of shoppers say they would make a secondary purchase during the returns process if it was quick and easy.
Returns are inevitable, but with savvy customer service and the implementation of a process to track reasons for returns, you can reconvert shoppers into a sale and prevent losses to your business’ revenue. Doing so can not only increase customer satisfaction with your brand across the board, but also encourage word-of-mouth referrals, which can drive new sales and long-term retention.