The modern consumer doesn’t have to go anywhere to buy your product. Technology enables people to be shoppers—and informed ones at that—anywhere there’s a connection to the net. This has fundamentally altered how point-of-sale business is done. As e-commerce has exploded, the process of returning merchandise has also been changed for good. Having an effective online returns program is vital for any business today that wants to maintain superior customer service and operational efficiency.
You must make all aspects of your returns policy as clear as possible. First, your return policy and instructions must be very easily accessible on your website and app, and written with the utmost clarity. Is there a pre-paid return label included in the shipment of the goods? If not, make it easy for the customer to print one by making it accessible from your returns screen. Tell your customer exactly how long it will take to get the refund, and don’t miss that deadline.
No one likes to return merchandise, but you can make it easier on your customers by providing multiple options for your customers to return merchandise. Allowing customers to return to any physical location, regardless of where they made a purchase, is convenient, as is offering ship-to-store.
Work with your customer to understand why they're making the return. Often times, especially in person-to-person interactions, you'll be able to prevent the return in the first place—or at least make a good impression. Perhaps the customer will go through with the return, but a pleasant experience will help drive loyalty, which will result in future sales.
If your customer follows your return instructions correctly, you will get your merchandise back, but that’s not enough. You want to make sure that the value of it has been preserved. Having an efficient, careful back-to-inventory process will help get the product back out onto the shelf for the next customer. Delays in processing the merchandise’s journey back into inventory may result in a missed sale. And a damaged or broken item is no good for anyone.
Refunds on credit and debit purchases are never going to be immediate, but processing online returns quickly increases the likelihood that you'll be able to make another sale to that same customer. A faster refund may even lead to a bigger sale than the first transaction.
Your entire returns process must be in line with the technological expectations of the modern consumer. Provide tracking numbers that are easy to input on any device, so that a customer can stay in the loop no matter where they are.
Learn what else shoppers have to say about their return preferences. Download the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study.
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