A good return policy can change an unhappy customer into a repeat buyer. In a study conducted by the European Commission, when online consumers were asked what drives them to make repeat purchases, around 90% stated a user-friendly return procedure. Companies should view returns as an opportunity to prove their worth, not as a necessary evil. No one expects you to be perfect. But if you do mess up, you better take responsibility.
How can I offer returns?
Return policy is the first thing you need to determine when offering returns. The policy should be spelled out in simple terms and communicate three simple things to the customer.
- How long the customer has to return their item
- Under what circumstances can the customer return their item
- How will the customer be refunded
The policy should be easy to find and be presented to the customer before they’ve made a purchase. Nothing fuels an unhappy customer like finding out they can’t return an item after they realize they need to.
If your not comfortable (or motivated) enough to write your own return policy, our partners over at Shopify have created a return policy generator.
What system do I need to process returns?
The second step to offering returns is having a system in place to monitor and finalize returns. Two fundamental issues you need to worry about when dealing with returns are: inventory and financial data. Simple enough, right? But when you’re dealing with different software systems, difficult customers, and the relatively new concept of online returns, keeping track of it can be difficult. It gets more complicated as you increase your number of orders.
You need a system in place which monitors returns for you. For example, a return being processed through Amazon should update your inventory and revenue in QuickBooks automatically. The same goes for any system you’re using. Instead of piecing together a point-to-point retail system, invest in a multichannel management system that can handle this problem for you with ease.
How do I track returns?
Lastly, you need to keep track of why you’re getting returns. The most efficient way to do that is taking notes on returns as they come in by using your multichannel management system. That way you know if shoes are constantly being returned for being too small, maybe you need to rethink your sizes.
What about shipping?
You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned a key factor to returns, shipping. This is a decision you have to make as a company, and there’s not necessarily a correct answer to the question, “Should I offer free return shipping?” Ideally the answer should always be “yes”. By offering free shipping you are providing the best possible experience for the customer. That being said, not every company can afford free shipping on returns. It’s a decision you have to figure out with your business’ best interest in mind.
What do I do now?
Now that you know the basics of offering returns, it’s time to get in touch with an organization who will work with you to set up a return system for your company. As this is the nChannel blog, I always recommend using a multichannel management system like ours to handle your returns. This way you aren’t only keeping track of returns in one system. They can be tracked all the way through the retail process, which stops you from having to manually update your inventory and financial data for every return.
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