If you operate an online business that sells and ships products abroad, the current returns policy that you have in place could be helping you gain or lose more customers. An effective returns management policy that offers generous returns, in combination with low shipping prices across the board, has been shown to help ecommerce businesses increase retention and customer loyalty in recent studies. In a nutshell, by offering easy returns and low cost shipping, you appease the vast majority of your customers, extremely leading to increased orders and improved customer satisfaction.
Your Most Prominent Buyers Make the Most Returns
A recent report that was published by think tank Forester Research, on behalf of UPS, offers some insight on just how your buyers act when they are making a purchase at your website. It found that 81% of all buyers desire an easy process for returns that is simplified. It also found that over 80% of all online shoppers are more loyal to companies that offer them a lucrative returns policy. The most popular returns policies are offered by large online stores like Zappos, where return shipping is included, there is no restocking fee and no questions are asked about the return.
Active customers will buy more products, and will absolutely make more returns as a result; as previously stated above. According to the Forester study, 79% of customers want affordable shipping options. For smaller online businesses, this is ever so important. Since these businesses are typically niche business that are competitive with larger ecommerce giants, it's imperative that the shipping options being offered are competitive, reliable and fast. With options that now exist, such as Priority Mail flat rate shipping – which is based upon different zones (1-4), a set poundage limit and dimension size – smaller businesses can now afford to offer fast and cheap shipping to appease this large demography of prospective customers who crave it.
Interesting Returns Management Statistics
When creating your returns policy, you will also want to consider any associated restocking fees, repackaging fees and return shipping fees. The Forester study concludes that 55% of all online customers want few or no restocking fees associated with the returns process. They also want the store to honor their returns, because in many instances it's actually not the customer's fault.
In about 65% of all online returns that were reviewed during the study, the return was initiated due to an error on the part of the store and not the customer.
- 23% of the time it had to do with the online store shipping the wrong product.
- 22% of the time it had to do with the item's appearance being drastically different upon arrival than it had been represented as in the online picture or description.
- 20% of the time, a return was initiated due to a damaged or defective item being received.
The good news is that with newer flat rate shipping options, many smaller businesses can offer generous returns and more affordable shipping rates. Considering that your most powerful buyers are also going to want to make returns and have them be convenient and low cost or free, it's wise to implement a generous returns management program with a flat rate shipping option that helps you retain more customers and grow your bottom line.