Whatever your niche, industry, vertical or product, as a business owner, your ultimate goal should be to make sure your customers return. It’s that simple.

Because according to a study by Bain and Co, a 5% increase in customer retention, could improve your profitability by 75%.

We’ll just leave that one with you for a minute.

While you ponder the countless ways to keep your customers coming back, as such nailing acquisition, perfecting the shopping experience and providing superior shipping options, you’re probably overlooking a monumental piece of your customer’s journey to ultimate satisfaction – returns.

70% of customers surveyed by Narvar said an easy exchange or refund would make them a repeat customer. So going MIA after purchase is simply not an option.  

In fact,  returns are the new norm and online shoppers are seeing returning an item as a natural part of the buying process, with 67% looking for the returns policy before they buy. This makes your returns policy, not only a retention strategy, but also a valuable conservation tool.

To put it bluntly, by not making your returns policy awesome, you don’t really have to worry about customers not coming back, because they might not buy from you in the first place.

So, on a lighter note, let’s dive into how to make your returns process the best in the biz, and use it to gain an advantage, that’ll leave all your competitors in the dust.

We like to think that the ultimate returns process should encompass ‘The Three C’s’ – Clarity, Convenience and Cost.  

Clarity

  • Make your policy simple and to the point
  • Your returns web page should be consistent with your brand in look and tone
  • Link to a contact, or online chat function. This is where a chatbot would really come in handy. Often answering queries at this point, will negate the need for a return at all

Convenience

  • Provide a choice. 87% of consumers surveyed cited multiple returns options, such returning to physical stores, drop-off points, courier collections or ease of postal returns, would make them more likely to shop online
  • Offer store credit on online purchases, which incentivises shoppers to immediately look for another item
  • No questions asked’ is a big plus for shoppers
  • Include a returns label in the box, or make it easy to print – 60% of customers say this makes a huge difference
  • Allow longer return deadlines to impress your busy customer
  • Provide tracking. Just as your customer wants to see their order coming, they want to see it’s progress when returning as well 

Cost

  • Provide a choice (have you noticed this crops up a lot). Offer return options at different price points
  • Never charge a customer to return a wrong or damaged product
  • …and 87% ideally don’t want to be charged for shipping at all
  • Process the return quickly. Nothing will annoy a customer more than waiting a disproportionate amount of time to get their money back
  • Don’t keep your customers guessing. Let them know when the return has been processed and provide them with an estimate for when to expect the refund.

Let’s be honest, no retailer wants a customer to return an item, we get that, but unfortunately it comes with the territory and that’s not going to change.

Instead let’s shift the mindset and view returns as a critical moment in the customer journey, therefore treating them with the same care as the rest of the customer experience.

Think of returns as an opportunity to surprise, impress and delight, to improve satisfaction, inspire loyalty, fuel revenue and nail that retention strategy.

See, when we put it like that, maybe returns aren’t such a bad thing after all.  

Want to learn more about returns? Check out the NORA X Shippit Webinar here: Returns – The Last Battlefront of Competing Online.

Shippit.com is the shipping engine for modern retail. Learn more about our how our software can save you time, money and keep your customers happy.

Author Elena Clarke

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