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e-Commerce Industry News


August 5, 2013
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3 ways to improve the post-purchase experience with a better returns policy
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August 5, 2013
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In eCommerce, the post-purchase customer experience is often just as important - if not more so - than everything leading up to the transaction. If shoppers are on the receiving end of poor service during the fulfillment process or while trying to return a product, they may never buy from that brand again - or worse, actively warn their friends and family to avoid the merchant.

Returns shouldn't be a hassle. Returns shouldn't be a hassle.
This is why it's so crucial to have an effective returns policy in place. If customers so desire, they should be able to easily return items purchased from you in a quick and seamless fashion. There should be no hassle from your end, provided they have a legitimate reason to return items and the necessary receipts. Here are a few tips for improving your returns policy and ensuring good service on the back end of the shopping experience.

1. Strive to minimize reasons to return goods in the first place
The best returns policy is one that is seldom used. Unfortunately, many retailers don't help the process when they have a poorly designed website and product catalog. If a product description isn't detailed and accompanied by pictures that accurately depict what the item looks like and the customer ends up dissatisfied with their purchase, than that's your fault. Multichannel Merchant suggests offering accurate and detailed product descriptions, multiple pictures from a variety of angles, customer reviews and even video if necessary.

2. Be flexible
As the saying goes, the customer is always right. There are few things more frustrating than buying something, waiting to receive it and then having to return it because it's either defective or it's not what you wanted. Retailers don't need to add any additional annoyance on top of that with inflexible or complicated returns policies.

Help your customer feel like she is in control. Is it easier for them to return a product in-store? Then let them. If they want to ship their purchase back, that should be a workable solution as well. Ideally, they should even be able to return a product in-store and make an exchange online. The key is making an inherently annoying situation as painless as possible.

3. Be transparent with your policies
Although a return is seldom a desired, that doesn't mean you should obfuscate your policies. The more transparent your returns policy is, the more business you'll do. If customers can't find your returns policy on your home page, they might not make a purchase to begin with.

eConsultancy suggests this extends beyond simply making your returns policy available. If customers need to return something, they shouldn't be confused about how to do so. Specify whether or not you charge for return shipping and restocking fees. If products are oddly shaped, include packing instructions and/or packaging. Getting products back to you shouldn't be any more difficult than receiving them in the first place.

Running a successful eCommerce business is full of challenges, and simply securing a sale can be difficult enough. However, it's critical to perfect the post-purchase process as well, because it can have a major effect on customer loyalty and retention. A robust order management system can help you streamline the returns process and better serve your customers.