1) Introduction to Best Practices for Ecommerce Returns
When you go into the store to buy something, you may not like it and just toss it aside or keep it back on the shelf. To replicate this experience in the ecommerce sector, the ecommerce returns process was devised. The procedure improved customer satisfaction in the ecommerce sector by such a margin that it became a vital feature of the industry.
In returns, best practices involve improving the return experience on the platform while reducing the product return rate. But, since it was a feature that catered to the customers' needs and meant a loss to the business, it became absolutely critical that the companies follow best practices for returns. This allowed them to pave the way to provide this essential service to the customers while minimizing losses.
The ecommerce industry has to always live up to the challenge of making the online shopping experience as close to the real-world shopping experience as possible. With the growth of the internet and technology, it has become easier for businesses to optimise this experience and provide a similar experience through a screen. The ability to return a product became an essential factor in this development and the development of the ecommerce sector, especially in segments like Fashion and Electronics.
The returns process has to follow the absolute best practices for ecommerce returns. The company has already lost a sale in the return process and has to bear the reverse logistics cost and restock the item. Ecommerce returns best practices help minimise this loss and ensure that you receive your product safely and retain the customer for further purchases.
2) What is the Ecommerce Returns Process?
Workflow design for a process decides the efficiency and viability of the process in the real world. For a process as complicated and vital as ecommerce return, it is crucial that you use the ecommerce returns best practices in the workflow and follow an optimised ecommerce returns process. The returns process of an ecommerce return should typically look like this:
Step 1: Buyer places the return request
Your platform should be able to accept and process automatic returns, primarily if you deal with low-value items. You can set particular parameters and accept the return automatically if an order fits these parameters.
Step 2: Generation of return receipt/return shipping label
To ensure that the returned item reaches the correct warehouse or fulfilment centre, you should partner up with your reverse logistic partner and send the return receipt to the delivery driver collecting the return.
Step 3: Buyer returns the product
Once the return is picked up, and in transit, it is better to provide the customer with a branded return tracking experience. The ecommerce returns process can take a while, but you can choose to send updates about their returns through push notifications or emails based on your preference.
Step 4: Seller receives the product.
Once the seller receives the product, the seller then uses the return label to pull up the order and return details to verify the integrity of the return. The product is then sent for a quality check, and the customer is notified that their return has been received.
Step 5: Scanning and Restocking
Once the product has passed the necessary quality checks, the products are then scanned and restocked as a new SKU to be resold again. Use best practices for ecommerce to check the quality of the received product, and dictate the terms of returns in the return policy.
Step 6: Update the order status and issue the refund
Once the product has been restocked, or the reason for the return has been verified, you will have to update the order status on your website and issue the refund.
Step 7: Notify the customer
Customer communication is the key to a seamless returns process. Once the refund has been issued, the customer should be notified. You can send them the reference number and give them a time frame for the refund to be processed based on the payment gateway's terms.
3) What are some of the best practices for ecommerce returns?
A return on order means you lose the sale, bear the forward and reverse logistics cost, and pay the quality check and restocking fees. When you have to incur so many losses on a single process, but it is vital to your customer experience, you must ensure that you use the most optimised workflow to handle it. Here are some of the ecommerce returns best practices you can incorporate into your returns flow.
3.1) Proper Returns Policy
One of the critical steps to ensure hassle-free seamless returns is establishing and publishing a clear, concise returns policy. The returns policy posted on your website should be easy to find. You can also include a snippet of the returns policy and link it to the main document in the shipping policy.
You have to outline the product's condition and a returns window for an order to qualify for a return. Policy documents can be hard to follow, primarily when using fine print to describe everything. Therefore, it may be optimal to use illustrations and flowcharts to explain some of the more complicated terms and conditions.
3.2) Multiple Modes of Returns
If you have a brick-and-mortar storefront, it is ideal that you enable your customers to make in-store returns. This has two benefits – you can verify the returned product firsthand, and you get an excellent chance to reengage the customer physically. Instore returns also help in inspiring customer loyalty as you make the returns experience as smooth as possible.
Alternatively, you can choose Shipping and fulfilment partners with an existing supply chain and network of instore and curbside pickups to provide your customers with more options.
3.3) Reengage the customer
You may have already lost the sale in case of the return, but you can use this to engage the customer with your platform and save on customer acquisition costs. You can use branded returns tracking page, engage proactive customers throughout the returns process, and suggest product recommendations through these on-site pages.
To engage the customer, you should also collect feedback regarding the reasons for the return, the product, and the return experience. If you have a wallet or reward points system, provide them with an option of getting a quicker refund through these methods so that you engage with your platform again.
3.4) Improve customer satisfaction
A hassle-free return almost guarantees that the customer will return to your platform. As you already have to bear some of the cost in the returns process, focus on complete customer satisfaction. Avoid unnecessary cost-cutting in the returns process, especially in the areas that may hamper customer experience.
4) Ecommerce Returns: Best Practices to reduce the return rate
Even though returns are an inevitable part of the ecommerce experience, there are some best practices of ecommerce returns you can follow to facilitate the return rate. You can make modifications to the ecommerce returns process and your platform to implement these changes and reduce the number of returns on your platform.
4.1) Optimised Product Visuals and Descriptions
Product visuals and descriptions are the key references that help customers make their purchase decisions. If the customer finds the visuals or details of the products different from what they perceived them to be, they are most likely to return the product. Make sure that you provide accurate product dimensions and size charts as well.
4.2) Collect Customer Feedback
Collecting customer feedback is said to be one of the best ecommerce returns best practices you can follow. Customer feedback provides you valuable insights into customer behaviour and allows you to optimise your platform and cater your experience and services to the customer's needs.
4.3) Provide Excellent Customer Service
Customer service can be a crucial yet unnoticed part of the returns experience. Providing prompt customer service lets you resolve customer queries related to delivery, purchase, and products quickly, and the customers will be sure about their purchase. This will inevitably reduce the return rate on your platform.
4.4) Use Returns Management Portal
You should use a returns management portal provided by customer experience management software like ClickPost to ensure hassle-free returns for your customer. These portals will allow you to tailor your returns experience for the customer and provide better customer engagement.
The ability to return a product bought online was one of the critical factors of ecommerce penetrating the retail markets. This gave customers more confidence and freedom to shop online. But, since the internet has reached every nook and corner of the world, ecommerce companies have to figure out the best way to deliver their products and services to the customers.
The Ecommerce returns process can be pretty complex, as the companies have to find an operationally and financially optimal way to collect and restock the product.
In order to minimise the losses, companies must follow best practices in ecommerce returns. This allows you to ensure that the loss of sale does not significantly impact your bottom line. At the same time, Ecommerce returns best practices will enable you to enhance your customer support and take measures to reduce the return rate on your platform.
FAQs about Best Practices in Ecommerce Returns
1) How can I reduce the ecommerce return rate using best practices in ecommerce returns?
You can follow some ecommerce return best practices to ensure that your return rate is reduced. One of the ideal ways to do so is to collect customer feedback on the returns portal so that you can tailor the experience toward the needs of the customer.
2) What is the best option to adopt an optimised ecommerce returns process?
One of the best ways to adopt an optimised returns process is to use fulfilment and shipping management software like ClickPost that have a returns management portal.