Let’s face it, the idea of starting an ecommerce business is to sell, not to take back. But achieving ultimate customer satisfaction demands a fair and equitable way to appease clients if their purchase doesn’t fit their expectations, or worse, if it’s defective.
It’s not enough to have an informal, barely mentioned caveat referring to returns. Customers want to know upfront how you will respond to their decision to return what you’ve sold them. If you don’t have a clear, articulate, and accessible return policy available for them to read prior to purchase, you’re asking for trouble.
Keep in mind that whatever is a reasonable way for your business to handle returns, it’s essential to conduct research using figures and anecdotes from other vendors before writing up a policy.
It may sound like a sad reality; a necessary evil. But think of this: Your clear, fair return policy may actually keep a customer base and, better yet, drive sales.
Unfortunately, the escalating cost of shipping with all carriers is a critical factor. If you can’t afford to return items that are structurally sound but just not what the customer likes, you will have to spell that out in plain language. It could deter some business, but as long as the buyer understands at the outset that the purchase is permanent, you’re off the hook.
If your biz is a bit more high-volume and the cost of returns are not catastrophic, consider crafting a liberal return policy. Second to your inventory and web interface, it could be the most endearing feature of your entity. That means it should be well publicized. If you offer free returns with free shipping and very few restrictions, say so. Work the language into a visual spot on your home page, or even compose a company slogan on the header and footer.
It’s doubly important to include your policy, whether liberal or restrictive, on every page. If your customer finds the ideal purchase on a landing page, the return policy should be clearly presented without making them hunt for it.
Hopefully you’re already offering live tracking features with every purchase. Eager shoppers love following every move of an anticipated arrival. Make that tracking feature even more useful with a link for initiating a return. Buyer confidence is preferable to buyer’s remorse, and there is psychological support for the theory that customers may be predisposed to dissatisfaction if they are aware that they can’t return their purchase.
If you go about conquering the challenge of return purchases, make sure it’s done with the objective of making your ecommerce store more friendly and successful, and not less. It will energize your overall business plan and it will ingratiate you with customers who may stick around a long time.