The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for retailers and small businesses. Companies reach the highest sales rate during this time, but there are also challenges coming along. One of these challenges is holiday returns. In fact, more than one-third of Americans return their holiday gifts. We all know that returning items is a burden, so making reverse logistics and the returns experience smooth and frictionless is critical for customer satisfaction.
How do returns affect online sales?
In 2020, e-commerce sales increased by 18% from the previous year, making it the top sales channel for many retailers. While online shopping is a fast and convenient way to purchase gifts, it still has its specific issues. There’s no surprise that e-commerce stores handle way more returns than brick and mortar stores. When you choose items in the physical store, there’s no problem with size, fit, and material. However, it gets way more complicated online. That’s why e-commerce returns account for 30% of general sales, which is three times more than the return rate in brick and mortar stores.
In fact, returns are stressful for both customers and retailers. Apart from handling returns, retailers have to take care of frustrated customers and arrange a smooth return experience. There are many strategies that can help reduce returns and improve your customers’ satisfaction.
There’s nothing good about high return rates, but according to stats, they will only keep growing. In 2020, returns were costing $550 billion, which is 72% more than in 2017. The more expensive items are, the higher the probability is of the return.
3 tips for managing e-commerce returns
1. Prevent them
Before thinking about how to handle returns, think about how to eliminate the possibility of customers choosing the wrong items. Make sure to provide detailed descriptions, size guides, and good visualization of your products. Analyze your returns data and determine which items are forwarded back the most, and why. Apart from the product part, check if your order fulfillment and delivery are working properly. Any shipping errors will contribute to the general worth of returns.
2. Making the return experience smooth
Returns are unfortunately unavoidable. That’s why your focus should be on making the process of returns as smooth as possible for the customers. The easier it is, the more chances you’ll retain customers. In fact, 62% of customers would buy again from a retailer offering free returns, and 96% would shop again if the exchange process was “easy” or very “easy.” If you can, provide free returns and more time for arranging an exchange.
3. Customer support
Immediate response and following guidance are extremely important factors for customer experience when managing returns. Be ready to answer all potential customer questions and face negative feedback. Offering fast and useful help is a great way to balance the situation, and a smooth returns experience can make your customers order more and leave them satisfied.