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5 tips for optimising your ecommerce returns policy

Ecommerce returns have become a major pain point for retailers in recent years. But, the shift to online shopping in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a further spike in returns. In fact, online purchases are being returned three times more often than an item bought in a brick-and-mortar store.

Therefore, the pressure is on for retailers to process returns quickly and efficiently in an increasingly crowded ecommerce landscape. Payflex outlines 5 ways retailers can rethink their returns strategies in order to deliver a more consistent, efficient, and responsive customer experience.

1. Look at the data

Understanding the root cause behind how, when, and why customers return items is critical to minimising ecommerce return volumes. Utilise analytics and data to identify products with a high return rate as well as problematic customers. Moreover, harness this data to identify patterns, prevent problems, and improve overall customer experience.

2. Add new ways for customers to return products

Buy online and return in store is increasingly emerging as the method of choice for both shoppers and retailers. Research has shown that most online shoppers prefer returning an item to a physical store rather than shipping it back. Create more drop-off locations where customers can return your products in a bid to meet shopper expectations. Moreover, this presents several benefits for the retailer. Firstly, logistics expenses are reduced and secondly, additional sales can be made while the consumer is in-store.

3. Extend your returns window

In light of social distancing and extended lockdown measures, it would be wise to extend your returns window from the usual 14 or 30 days, to 60 days. This goes a long way towards increasing customer loyalty and encouraging repeat buyers.

4. Promote exchanges instead of returns

An exchange or credit is the best opportunity to save a sale. Therefore, try to encourage store credit instead of issuing a refund in a bid to drive the next sale. In addition, it might be a good strategy to offer these customers an additional discount off their next order.

5. Automate returns

Make it easy for your customers to request a return by enabling them to start the ecommerce returns process through an online returns page. This page will enable them to print a trackable delivery label using packaging that can easily be reused. This eliminates the need to repackage and forward goods somewhere else.
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