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Whether they come in a mad rush after the holidays or flow in steadily during the rest of the year, eCommerce returns are a fact of retail life. According to the 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ survey, more than one-third (36%) of online shoppers worldwide returned an item in the three months leading up to the survey.
Getting your eCommerce returns right may make the difference between securing a repeat customer and losing their business entirely. Here are five ways you can develop an eCommerce returns process that keeps customers happy and works for your business.
1. Recognize the demand for free return shipping
Shoppers have always been drawn to the word “free.” So it’s no surprise that in the 2019 online shopper survey, 42% of respondents listed free return shipping as the primary factor shaping a positive returns experience.
Even more telling, 69% indicated that paying for a return reduces the chance they’ll purchase from that retailer again. That number rises to 85% if the delivered item is of poor quality, arrives late, is faulty, or doesn’t match its online presentation.
Having to fork over cash for a return obviously irks many consumers. And they are ready to take matters into their own hands, voting with their wallets and leaving bad reviews that can harm your business.
Does that mean you should offer free return shipping at any cost? Not necessarily, but it does mean you must have a well-designed returns policy that offers flexibility and choice.
2. Devise a clear, hassle-free returns policy
The terms of your returns policy can influence whether or not shoppers decide to buy from you. So make sure your policy is clear and user friendly.
More than two-thirds (68%) of shoppers say they review an e-tailer’s returns policy before buying from the site. Almost everyone surveyed (96%) said a straightforward returns policy would prompt them to buy from the same source again.
Whatever your policy, it is important to state it plainly and communicate it proactively. This is even more important during the holiday season, as the volume of sales (and returns) sharply increases.
3. Make refunds easy
Money matters to your customers (especially when they’re spending a lot of it during the holidays). And so does speed. Once shoppers have decided to return an item, they want merchants to respond fast.
The major reason survey respondents gave for a poor returns experience was delay in receiving a refund. Consumers are similarly irritated by delay in receiving a replacement item. When a customer requests a refund that meets the terms of your returns policy, get the money back to them as quickly as possible. Aim to offer an automatic refund to their debit or credit card. One quarter (24%) of survey respondents said the prospect of an automatic refund to their card contributed most to a positive returns experience.
4. Enable easy-to-print return labels
Nobody wants to jump through hoops to get their return on its way, and that starts with having the right label. In the survey, 21% of respondents listed the availability of an easy-to-print return label as most contributing to a positive returns experience.
Make returns management — including the creation of labels — easy on yourself and your customers. UPS Returns® Manager lets you offer the convenience of preauthorized returns, with easy-to-print return labels and mobile codes for label-less returns at [The UPS Store® locations](https://www.theupsstore.com/tools/find-a-store.
5. Offer an easy-to-follow returns process
Having a clear returns policy is one thing, but how easy is your returns process to follow? Shoppers want an intuitive, low-stress experience when it comes to customer returns, with no need for sending email or making calls to customer service.
Above all, consumers appreciate flexibility. Be sure to give your customers alternate ways of returning their packages, so they can select the method most convenient for them. For example, highlight drop-off options through the UPS Access Point® network of neighborhood retailers and the nationwide network of UPS® Drop Boxes, as well as nearby The UPS Store locations.
If you’re an eCommerce seller with brick-and-mortar locations, remember shoppers are often happy to “buy online, return in store.” And they may even make another purchase once inside.
UPS can help make eCommerce returns easier
As we experience what analysts predict will be another record-breaking holiday season for eCommerce sales, you’ll want to be well prepared for the inevitable spike in returns. In addition to all of the UPS solutions mentioned above, you can also take advantage of UPS shipping rates discounted up to 55% through Square Online Store.
If you don’t have a UPS account, it’s easy to set one up. Simply go to your shipping settings and click “Create account” under the UPS logo.
UPS (NYSE: UPS) is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including transporting packages and freight; facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. UPS was awarded America’s Best Customer Service company for Shipping and Delivery services by Newsweek magazine; Forbes Most Valuable Brand in Transportation; and top rankings on the JUST 100 list for social responsibility, the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, and the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient, among other prestigious rankings and awards. The company can be found on the web at ups.com or pressroom.ups.com.