Why Your Return Policy Can Unlock More Online Sales

Category : Business/Economy
Posted By : Ambrose Onyango
Posted Date : 30 Dec 2018 11:00 hrs

Return-PolicyThe data is out, and online sales have grown globally by more than 20 percent each year since 2014. However, not all eCommerce sites have been seeing a commensurate rise in how much business they conduct online. New research now indicates that the return policies of those struggling businesses could partially explain why their online sales have remained low, or continue to dwindle. Do you own an e-commerce business? Read on and learn why your return policy can unlock more online sales.

Why Your Return Policy Matters

Online shoppers use the internet to buy products and services because it is convenient and saves them from having to drive to a brick-and-mortar retail outlet. However, buyers often pay for goods trusting that the descriptions or pictures they see can help them make an informed decision regarding the suitability of those products for their needs.

Unfortunately, this may not always be the case, and a customer may need to return that product in order to exchange it for another or get their money back. What do most retailers do? They formulate return policies that make it cumbersome for a client to return a product thinking that such an approach will lock in more profits. Ironically, these underhand techniques have the opposite effect of driving customers away because you will have taken the convenience away from the online shopping experience. This explains why your return policy can unlock more online sales, or make them nosedive.

How to Use the Return Policy as a Conversion and Sales Tool

1. Use Simple Language

Most online shoppers don’t set out to give online retailers a hard time by mindlessly returning products. Consequently, shoppers will assess the return policy carefully so that they know what they are getting into if a need ever arises to return a product. Many shoppers will therefore refrain from making an online purchase from a business whose return policy is written in legalese, or language that is otherwise difficult to understand.

Therein lies the first key to unlocking more online sales for your eCommerce website. Use simple language to write your return policy so that customers don’t have a hard time understanding it. For example, use short sentences and make use of bullet points to highlight the key aspects of the policy. This presentation will make it easier for potential customers to feel comfortable enough to make a purchase.

The key information that your return policy should contain includes the items you will accept back, their condition, the timelines within which returns can be made, who incurs the cost of shipping returns, how your business refunds money (is it by check, store credit or by credit card, etc.).

2. Convey Convenience

The aforementioned point of simple language goes hand in hand with conveying convenience as much as possible. For instance, include a return label in the product packaging so that customers just fill out the form instead of struggling to figure out what is required as they return a product to your store.

3. Pay Attention to Cost

Most customers surveyed feel that online businesses punish them by imposing different fees for returns. Moreover, some of those fees aren’t justified, such as the “restocking fees” imposed by some eCommerce retailers. Make your online business a sales magnet by eliminating as many fees from the returns process as possible. For example, refrain from making a customer to pay the return shipping fee if a wrong product was delivered. Similarly, provide alternative ways through which products can be sent back so that the customer can select the most convenient and affordable option for him or her.

4. Be Flexible

Many online businesses expect customers to open a package and inspect it as soon as it is delivered. However, we live in a busy world and not everyone will have that luxury. Savvy online businesses can use this awareness to endear themselves to customers by allowing extended return deadlines, such as more than 30 days from the date of delivery. Such flexibility will reassure your customers that they can return a product even if they get caught up and cannot check the item immediately after delivery.

5. Process the Money Quickly

It is also in your best interest to expedite the process of refunding or crediting the accounts of your clients once they return a product. Remember, we live in an era where instant gratification is a given, so you will not be forgiven for taking “forever” to process the money owed to your customers after those customers have returned a product. If possible, include a timeline in your return policy so that customers know how long they can typically expect to wait before they get their money or credit in any form. Such a high degree of transparency will allay any fears that customers may have regarding the delaying tactics engaged by other less professionally run online businesses.

6. Drop RMA Requirements

Online sellers use data gathered from return merchandise authorization (RMAs) to track various metrics, such as the main reasons why people return products. Nevertheless, this added step in the return process is cumbersome and may deter many potential clients from making a purchase.

Revisit your RMA requirement and don’t let this convenience on your part cost you customers, especially if you have been using BOLD CAPS to inform your customers about the return merchandise authorization.

7. Get a Physical Store Too

More than half of all clients who return products prefer taking those products to a brick-and-mortar store for a variety of reasons. First, many want to buy other products during that trip when they are returning a product. Secondly, they may also want to see what they can exchange for the product that they have returned. Do you now see how operating an online retail outlet without a traditional physical store can cost you repeat clients? Analyze the data on your sales and set up shop in a location that is readily accessible by most potential clients in your niche.

The success of your online business may well depend on what you do when you read the discussion above on why your return policy may unlock more online sales. Tweak your techniques to suit the dynamics of your target market, but be sure to implement what other successful eCommerce businesses do (making use of influencers, for example). You will then enjoy growing sales as more people take to the internet for all their purchases.

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