The Webretailer News for December 20, 2022
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Let’s talk about returns. A CNBC report last year laid out some key statistics from the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail.
First, retail overall received back around 16.6% of the total merchandise customers purchased in 2021 — a jump 10.6% in 2020. And of that 16.6%, the average rate of returns for online purchases was 20.8% — up from 18.1% in 2020.
With Holiday Season numbers even higher than last year, online sellers should expect an influx of returns coming next week. It’s a little late to change any standing policies now. But we’re laying out our top eCommerce returns policy tips, so you can make adjustments.
eCommerce return policy tips 2023
For a full rundown of these tips, check out our answers to every question for eCommerce returns.
Different businesses require different returns policies
With so many order fulfillment processes possible, returns policies vary from site to site. For example:
- Full refunds
- Partial refunds
- Store credit exchanges
- Free return shipping
In these policies, businesses tread the line between cost and customer service. Large enterprises like Amazon and Walmart can afford to offer a scaled, free, and no-questions-asked returns policy that customers love. But that’s not always possible for online SMBs who often have to charge for return shipping or can offer only store credit.
The goal is to avoid forcing a returns policy into your business model. Analyze your books, gauge and survey your target market, and then create a policy that works for your business. You don’t have to offer an Amazon return policy to be a successful web retailer — it can even encourage return fraud.
Make your return policy clear and known
Up to two-thirds of your shoppers will visit your return page before purchasing. And if your policy is hard to find, trust in your brand will dip during the purchase process, and you have a higher chance of losing a sale.
Sellers don’t want returns, but don’t make it difficult to find your returns policy. Include a link to it in the footer of your site, make it available throughout the buying process — below shopping carts and on receipts.
And when customers read your policy, let there be no room for error. Completely lay out your policy and include an FAQ that addresses any specific ‘returns’ situations. Keep this updated throughout the life of your business as you learn from interactions with your customers.
Align your returns policy with your marketing strategy and brand
Brands fight to stand out in the eCommerce world. And often, the balance can tip in your favor with solid customer service. Therefore, your returns policy should align with your brand in terms of experience.
The tone of your policy should reflect the values of your business. This creates a uniform customer experience from the first click to checkout. If you throw a curveball with a harshly worded returns policy, you risk alienating your customer base.