How much sway does your returns policy have on prospective sales? The answer is: A LOT. So says a study that created by ComScore which found that a return policy can influence as much as 80% of a shopper’s buying decision.
But what’s 80% … Right? The truth is that shoppers have become keener in recent years when shopping online. With a wide variety of nearly unending choices that they have, all which are just a click away, finding the next store that will offer them what they want and how they want it is child’s play.
The key to attracting these shoppers to your store, getting them to stay there and convert on the sale while encouraging repeat purchases is largely influenced by your online product returns policy. In fact, studies have found that convenient online product returns actually work to improve profits at your online store.
Given that shoppers have umpteen choices these days as to where they are going to spend their money, it makes sense to help them know that your store is the best place for them to shop. In par are some obvious factors, like your pricing, the cost of shipping, customer service, quality of goods and so forth.
But at the core, the very inner core, is what happens next. What happens after they’ve bought an item and suddenly find out that they need to make a return? Well, that’s where your online product returns policy kicks into high gear, either working for or against your bottom line.
Return Rates Are High for E-Retailers
In a recent Wall Street Journal report, it found that about one-third of all products that are purchased online by consumers will ultimately be sent back to e-retailers. Key reasons include: damaged product, item is drastically different in appearance than was shown online, apparel does not fit, wrong item was delivered or the customer simply changed their mind.
Now there are a number of ways that you can reduce the rate of online product returns by simply updating product descriptions, adding higher quality pictures and even video demonstrations and helping customers find the right fitting clothing (learn how you can reduce product returns in fashion e-commerce with this guide). Understanding that in most cases (about 65% of them), the returns your fault, and not the customer’s, is imperative in you effectively managing and ultimately profiting from your online product returns policy.
Customers Demand No Return Fees
A number of studies have found that there’s one thing that customers loathe when shopping online: paying for the cost of shipping. This includes paying for shipping on products that they are about to purchase, and it also includes paying return shipping on products that they need to send back.
In recent surveys it was found that over 90% of customers want free shipping across the board. What’s more, 80% of customers are not likely to tell others about your store if free return shipping is not being offered. And, a majority of customers want to know that a convenient online product returns process is in place before they make a purchase.
Why You Want to Offer Free Return Shipping
You may be thinking that there’s no real effective way to offer free return shipping and not eat into your bottom line too much. But a CNBC article finds quite the opposite. In a study that spanned 49 months, and that followed two larger online retailers over 50,000 transactions, it was found that when free return shipping was offered, consumer spending dramatically increased over just 24 months.
The study revealed that the average consumer spend increased from between $600-$2,400 over just two years. The study concluded that this was due to the fact that A. repeat buyers make the most returns, and B. that when free return shipping is offered, customers remain loyal to a brand and will return to buy more products because they know it won’t be a hassle to return the ones that don’t work out for them.
What Your Online Product Returns Policy Really Says
So just what is your online product returns policy really telling your customers? Are you telling them that it will be easy to buy something from you, but that after the fact they are up the creek without a paddle if they need to make a return? Or are you ASSURING them that no matter what, you’ve got their back and returns are nothing that they should be concerned about.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Do you really want to shop somewhere that doesn’t make returns easy? The simple answer is: NO.