All Things Shipping | Apr 21, 2022

Webinar Recap: What Consumers Want From E-commerce Returns

Heather Lohmann

Last week, Loop joined us “onstage” to present findings from our recently co-published Returns & Exchanges Report. Hosts Stephen Meserve and Miriam Tremelling covered everything from creating a consumer-friendly policy that helps drive conversions, to successfully navigating the influx of post-holiday returns. Be sure to check out the full recording for an in-depth look at the impact of e-commerce returns and exchanges on your customer’s experience (and thereby your bottom line), but below, we’ve outlined four key takeaways to help you get a head start:

Treat your e-commerce returns experience as a differentiator.

91% of consumers say the ease of their returns experience impacts their willingness to continue shopping with a retailer, while 67% have stopped shopping with a retailer after a negative experience. The vast amount of choice and inventory available online can make it challenging to set yourself apart, and sky high consumer expectations set by retail giants such as Amazon only seem to exacerbate the situation.

Today’s consumers expect convenient and flexible experiences across the entire e-commerce journey, and by meeting these expectations – especially when it comes to returns – you can stand out in the eyes of your customers. By offering free return shipping, including return labels in your packages, and delivering other consumer-friendly policies, you’ll give your customers plenty of reasons to choose you over the competition.

Clear, concise communication is key.

84% of consumers read a policy before making a purchase, and as mentioned above, creating a consumer-friendly policy can help inspire more conversions. Firstly, make sure your policy is easy to find – whether that’s via a focused returns FAQs page, or communicated via a shipment tracking page and other email notifications delivered directly to your customers’ inboxes. You’ll also want to answer the right questions and outline every detail – for example, what’s the required timeframe for returning items, or how should they initiate a return?

Clear and concise communication about your return policy, offered via a variety of touchpoints, will help give your customers peace of mind before commiting to an online purchase. It’s that peace of mind that will help inspire more trust in your brand, and in the long-run, ultimately drive more repeat purchases and customer loyalty.

Get rid of prohibitive barriers that complicate return shipping.

By simplifying the returns process for your customers, you can further deliver an experience that inspires confidence, drives conversions, and wins more loyalty, resulting in repeat purchases and customer advocacy. As an example, one-third of Americans don’t have a printer at home, and even if they do, ink is expensive – all of which makes printing return labels at home a chore. By including return labels in your packages, you do away with the need for any extra work on their end – and in fact, 30% of consumers prefer this method when it comes to returns. It’s also important to note that you don’t get charged unless the return is initiated, which makes it a win-win for both your customers and your bottom line.

Incentivize exchanges over straightforward returns.

To avoid losing revenue from the initial sale, e-commerce merchants need to build strategies that help turn returns experiences from a straightforward refund into an exchange. When you consider 85% of consumers who returned an e-commerce purchase within the last year also exchanged at least one item in that same timeframe – with 18% exchanging at least 5 items – it becomes apparent that this is a realistic and achievable goal. By promoting exchanges in lieu of returns, retailers can keep customers engaged with your brand and products, and entice upsells or repeat purchases.

Be sure to watch the full webinar recording to gain a better understanding of what today’s consumers really want from their e-commerce return and exchange experiences, and learn how to address these expectations while still meeting your specific business’ needs and goals.

Heather Lohmann is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Shippo.

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