How to make returns easy this holiday shopping season

The holiday shopping season has officially ended, which means returns season is here.

Maybe you’re asking, why should I care about making returns easy?

Because your customers care.

In fact, returns are a massive deal for customers. Consider the following facts, courtesy of Endicia.

  • Return confusion is the #1 reason that some people refuse to shop online.
  • 89% of shoppers who have a positive returns experience say they’ll shop at that store again

And, good returns is a smart business move. Footwear retailer Zappos found out that the customers who do the most returns are ultimately the most profitable for their business.

So, here’s how you can make it easy (and how it will help your business).

1. Make your return shipping free

We put this up here because it’s the most controversial.

After all, a lot of business owners don’t want to pay return shipping costs — and why should they, just because a customer chose “M” instead of “L” or clicked “blue” instead of “green”.

Look, we agree with you, in theory.

But in practice, paying for your customers’ returns is good business. One study found that customers who have to pay for their own returns spend 75-100% less at the same retailer over the next two years, while customers who receive free returns spend 158-457% more!

Plus, it’s what your customers want above all things. Check it out:

(Source)

The number one thing that makes your return experience positive, and therefore builds loyalty and repeat business is free return shipping.

2. Make your return policy a selling point

We mentioned Zappos earlier, and that’s because they have a legendarily strong commitment to customer service. It’s well known that they offer free return shipping — in part because they let you know about it on your shopping cart page.

That image is straight from a Zappos checkout page. It’s right there, in clear English (and not jargon), for any customer who’s worried about returns to see.

And that’s exactly the kind of example you should follow.

3. Offer a little extra if they take store credit

The whole reason you’re offering free return shipping is to promote more shopping on your site, right?

But instead of simply giving back their money and hoping that they’ll come back for more next time, why not give them a tangible reason to come back?

One of the easiest ways to do this is to offer store credit instead of a cash refund for returning customers. Why would your customers take this? Because you should offer them an incentive—maybe 110-115% of the value of the refund, or an additional $20.

This way, you’ll keep their money in your bank accounts, and you know they’ll be coming back to your store at least one more time!

4. Be easy

Here’s another fact: according to UPS, who knows a thing or two about returns, 66% of your customers will take a look at your return policy before buying.

That means it pays to be clear, and above all, hassle-free when outlining your return policy. A separate UPS survey found that hassle-free returns was the second most important aspect of a positive, business-boosting returns experience.

What does hassle-free mean?

  • Give your customers 90 or more days, not 30, to decide if they want to keep something.
  • Don’t require original packaging (most people throw it away immediately)
  • The last way to make returns hassle-free is so important we’re giving it its own section…

5. Include a label, or make getting one a breeze

52% of your customers want return labels included in the box, in part because they don’t want to have to pore over your return policy to discover the correct address. If they don’t want something, they just want to slap the label back on the box and ship it back to you.

Of course, if you don’t want to print the label yourself, you should at least make it as simple as possible for customers to do the same. (UPS also found that 46% of customers want the return label to be easy-to-print.)

For this, we recommend using a returns software. The benefit of these is that it allows you to track returns on your end from start to finish — no swapping between apps or websites to determine where items are.

If you’re using a platform like Shopify, there’s plenty of return software for you to choose from.

Wrapping up

Returns aren’t something that businesses want to deal with. In an ideal world, you’d sell and be done with it. But customer-centric returns is actually an opportunity for your business to grow and win new customers, so don’t skimp here!