Making e-commerce returns easier for customers

Here, we give a handful of tips to make e-commerce returns easier for customers, and reveal why this is an important consideration.

Today’s consumers love shopping online. It is super convenient compared to driving to and from the mall – especially during the holiday season. It’s a lot of fun too. Shoppers can peruse dozens of e-commerce stores from the comfiest seat in the house. Heck, you don’t even need to change out of your pyjama pants!

But that doesn’t mean everything is better online. In fact, a few challenges specific to e-commerce are capable of driving buyers mad. One example is the returns process. Below are a handful of tips to make e-commerce returns easier for customers and why this is an important consideration.

The best fit

Shoppers may not have to come in to your e-store to make a purchase – which is nice – but they will have to make a purchase to try on an article of clothing. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of back and forth between consumers and e-store brands. Here are just a few examples:

A shopper buys a medium. You ship it to their house. They try it on and realize it is too baggy. They send it back in exchange for a small.

A shopper buys a medium and a small of the same product to try on both. They return the medium because it’s too big.

A shopper buys a medium. They want to return the product, but you are all out of smalls. So, the buyer demands a refund.

This process is very time consuming. To reduce back and forth, include a detailed sizing guide for all your products.

Still, there’s another issue. Who absorbs the costs for these returns? While fledgling e-stores may need to push these financial obligations onto the customer (due to razor-thin profit margins), larger e-commerce sites should front the fees. Think of it as an investment in good customer service.

Sure, the returns process is a headache for e-commerce vendors. We all know that. But shoppers who can buy and return goods until they get exactly what they want – now that’s a priceless interaction that will keep them coming back time and time again.

Drawing the line somewhere

Now obviously, there are times when e-store need to draw a line. These instances should be few, but it is vital that you make it clear for your customers. To what are we referring? A customer agreement, of course.

This agreement should lay out your returns policy and any exceptions to the rule. For instance, you may want to say you ‘accept all returns within 60 days of delivery. However, this does not apply to ‘clearance’ items, which can only be returned for store credit’.

If you host your store on a cloud e-commerce platform, your provider may have sample agreement available for your use. If you aren’t sure, it never hurts to ask.

What’s the big deal?

According to the Baymard Institute, 10 per cent of customers who abandoned carts without checking out did so because the returns policies were unsatisfactory. This proves two important things; consumers are well aware of what they want from a returns policy and ignoring consumer expectations directly impacts your bottom line.

Remember to include free return shipping labels on your website or inside your packaging. While you may dislike the idea of processing returns and reshipping items, warming up to the idea is crucial. Making ecommerce returns easier for customers is a simple way to make your buyers happy, and who doesn’t want that?

The simpler your returns process, the more likely you are to retain customers.

See also: The art of e-commerce

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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