One of the most important ways an online retailer can make themselves more attractive to
shoppers looking online for Christmas gifts this year is to provide a strong returns process to
build trust and confidence with consumers.
eCommerce is not only handicapped by the inability of shoppers to touch, smell, and try on a
product, but also by fears around the returns process.
For one, having to return an item is a pain for anybody, but the complexity of online returns only
increases shopper reluctance. Retailers should try to make returns even more seamless than
popping down to the local mall.
I’ve personally had an issue where I had to go backwards and forwards over a period of three
weeks to return a tablet because I was using an alternative email to the one I used to purchase
the tablet; this threw the retailer into confusion. The reality is that customers make mistakes.
Plan for them.
It’s particularly important for smaller businesses struggling to compete with local giants and
overseas companies to emulate the bricks and mortar experience as closely as possible to give
themselves a competitive edge.
For example, shirts or shoe sizes will vary because the cut of the clothing is different for most
manufacturers. You can take five shirts into a changing room, even if you are only buying one.
Online retailers can emulate this—ship five shirts, and allow buyers to return the four they don’t
want in a simple and seamless returns process.
Here’s some advice for Kiwi retailers who want a less painful and more profitable festive
1. Don’t get tripped up by details
Frustrations around email addresses, for example, should never happen because it’s human
nature to have more than one email address.
If somebody is returning goods, all they should require is a purchase number, not names,
telephone numbers, email and street addresses etc.
Make sure the details you require are necessary. The rest is just fluff that inhibits the customer
experience. Less pedantic, but smarter, is the way to go.
2. Keep it seamless
Online retailers need to make the shopping experience and returns process as easy as possible
because too many retailers make it unnecessarily hard to buy.
The costs for eCommerce are significantly smaller than bricks and mortar stores. Use some
margin to reduce the steps in the returns process. This creates a point of difference you can use
in your marketing.
Even if somebody just doesn’t like a product, tell them they can return it because that removes
the risk associated with not being able to touch and feel a product during the purchase process.
3. Be deliberate with your returns infrastructure
A returns form on your website, front and centre, is a good start because it can address any
questions or need for documents with speed, efficiency, and simplicity. Have a good receipting
process matched up with a return already authorised.
Have clear, simple instructions to guide your customer through the returns process. Have the
courier pick up the item from their home. It’s good for the retailer as well because going
backwards and forwards eats into the company’s profits.