Friday January 4, 2019
January can be a pretty slow month; Christmas is over, the New Year is yawning and stretching into life and the winter jackets are staying safely zipped up as the weather gets wicked.
That said, ecommerce companies aren’t set to take a festive siesta any time soon. With increased peak purchases, comes increased new year returns – and that means a busy time, as reverse logistics and refunds come into play. Returns are forecast to increase to £5.6 billion over the next five years, according to a new report. That means there’s a lot of stock sent out that’s heading right back to you.
Being such a key part of the customer buying experience, returns are a crucial opportunity for you to give your customers convenience, confidence and a reason to stay loyal and shop again. Regardless of the reasons for returning your products, your customer can still be left with a positive experience of transacting with you.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a few useful points to help you make the returns process as easy as possible for your customers.
Share the savvy
Customers will look to you for knowledge and expertise. And that includes hints and tips on how to ensure items should be safely and securely packaged for the journey back you.
Given that a parcel can end up passing from hand to van to distribution centre and beyond, it needs to be well-protected, clearly marked and compliant with courier standards.
Consider sharing handy posting guides like this one (especially if you’re sending fragile or unusual items). It can be a good idea to send plenty of bubble wrap when you’re posting items to your customer, and make sure there’s an outer box too; being prepared in this way will reduce the need for returns due to damage and will make sure that, if an item does need returning, the customer has all the materials they need to repackage.
Communication is key
Don’t leave room for ambiguity or confusion. An easy-to-find page on your website with returns policies and FAQs will make customers aware of your processes. This will save on frustrations they may have as they try to figure out what the course of action is (and removes the need for them to get in touch with you – particularly on social media where complaints are public and reputation can be damaged).
It’s also worth including returns information at the checkout, in sales emails or marketing communications, just to ensure the links can be found wherever your customers are interacting with you.
Guidelines for Amazon Marketplace
Amazon Marketplace is a complex world of its own. If you sell through this channel, there’s a few things your customers need to know.
Items sold by third-party sellers and fulfilled by Amazon, purchased between 1 November and 31 December 2018, need to be returned by midnight on 31 January 2019. To make sure these are received on time, it’s best that your customers know they need to return these by the 25 of January. Sellers aren’t required to refund the cost of gift-wrapping, so this should be something highlighted in your T&Cs. Finally, it’s important to let your customers know that if they are sending items back to Amazon distribution centres they must send via an approved carrier (UPS, DPD and Parcelforce) otherwise the items won’t reach Amazon as they’ll refuse delivery.