Retailers find themselves operating in a challenging environment these days, given the volatility of the global economy. Even many well-established enterprises are having a difficult time financially and coping with decreasing margins. Some businesses like the retail food business must tough it out in one location while others are improving online too.
Despite these conditions, more and more online retailers are offering customer-friendly returns programs, with features such as prepaid shipping labels and extended returns windows. That’s because merchants are increasingly realizing that in order to remain competitive, they must have policies that promote customer loyalty.
More Generous Return Policies
Some retailers believe that offering free returns and liberal returns policies can do nothing but put a dent in their earnings. However, this thinking is shortsighted; in fact, handling returns the right way can prove to be quite lucrative for retailers.
How is that possible? The answer lies in the heightened expectations that merchants must meet in this so-called “age of the customer.” Modern consumers demand a convenient online shopping experience and free shipping with a fast delivery service —plus they’re evaluating retailers based on their returns policies.
Gone are the days when free returns were simply unheard of, as retailers believed they would only encourage customers to send back items they bought. Eventually, many merchants came to realize customers were still managing to return items—and feared the inconvenient experience would send these shoppers elsewhere next time. Indeed, many customers began to shift their loyalties toward retailers whose returns policies took the shopper’s needs into consideration.
Many retailers now see that having a liberal returns policy can help them increase their profitability by improving their customer relationships. A customer-friendly returns program contributes to a positive experience that can eventually lead to repeat purchases and word-of-mouth referrals to family and friends. It’s all about nurturing customer loyalty.
Online Shopping Is Different
Why is offering an exceptional returns program so important? Because the online shopping experience is very different from the experience of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.
Online shopping exposes customers to a variety of risks they don’t encounter when buying items in-person at a store. For instance, there’s the risk of buying products that don’t look anything like the ones depicted online, or that weren’t accurately described in the product description. Merchandise can also get lost or damaged while being delivered, or customers may receive defective products.
Industry retailers can mitigate these risks by providing accurate product photos and information online, and by dealing with quality-related problems at the supplier level. But perhaps most importantly, they can show customers they care simply by making the returns process convenient and free.
Creating Ebay Return Policy
If you are an entrepreneur who sells goods on Ebay, the site requires you to set a written return policy before making any sales. Why is that so? Ebay has found that sellers with a specific return policy stated on their page made far more sales than sellers that did not have a visible return policy. That means it is beneficial to your business to create a return policy. It can help your business get cash in a downturn. No matter whether you accept returns or not, customers will feel better knowing what to expect from your shop. So learn from Ebay, and make sure to have a return policy stated clearly on your website, marketplace page or on business receipts. A transparent returns policy can earn your business more profits, so it is a smart business decision to make.
If you’re still not convinced of the importance of a customer-friendly returns process, consider this: Studies have shown that the shoppers who return the most orders are also the ones who spend the most online. If you make it hard for this demographic to return items they don’t want, you may lose out on the opportunity to convince them to buy more of the products they do want.
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