During the Salesupply Ecommerce Returns Week we took a deep dive into international ecommerce returns and its best practices. The overall outcome: make the return process as clear, transparent, smooth, and frictionless as possible. In addition, try and learn from your return process to reduce returns (and cost!) in the near future. In this article we briefly sum up all best practices before diving into the solution to start using most of these best practices: an automated ecommerce returns portal. 

Are you thinking of integrating a returns platform? Now is the moment. Contact us before the 8th of July 23 and set-up costs are on us.

The best practices in ecommerce returns:  

A clear and transparent returns & refund policy: Clearly communicate your returns and refund policy on your website. Make sure it is easily accessible, written in plain language, and covers important details such as timeframes, eligibility criteria, and refund options.  

Multiple return channels: Offer various return channels to accommodate customer preferences. This can include in-store returns (if applicable), home pick-ups or drop-off points. Providing multiple options gives customers flexibility and convenience. 

Prepaid return labels: Whenever possible, provide (digital) prepaid return labels to simplify the return process for customers. Including a prepaid label in the original package or allowing customers to generate one online can significantly improve the customer experience. 

Store credit as a refund alternative: in times when revenues and margins are under pressure, it hurts even more having to refund your hard-earned revenue. It turns out that quite a few clients (20-30%) are open to receiving store credit (coupon) instead of a refund when offered the choice.       

Local return addresses: A good return process is easy and frictionless. Sending returns across the border or even overseas is not considered easy and frictionless. To be successful internationally, online stores need to compete like a local. In returns this means providing customers with a local returns address. 

Tracking and notifications: Provide customers with the ability to track their return shipments and send automated notifications at key stages of the process, such as when the return is received, processed, and refunded. This helps keep customers informed and reduces anxiety. 

Continuous improvement: Use returns data as a valuable source of feedback. Analyze reasons for returns and identify patterns or recurring issues. Use this information to make data-driven decisions that can reduce return rates, enhance product quality, and optimize the overall customer experience.  This information can help you improve product descriptions, images, sizing guides, and other areas that contribute to customer dissatisfaction. 

Customer support: Provide knowledgeable customer support to assist customers throughout the returns process. A comprehensive online knowledge base that addresses frequent questions and concerns related to returns can play a major role in your returns service, thereby reducing the burden on customer service agents.  

Easy-to-use online returns portal: Create a user-friendly and intuitive online returns portal where customers can initiate their return requests. Provide a step-by-step process with clear instructions and options for returns, exchanges, or refunds.  

There are plenty of ways to improve your ecommerce returns operations. Integrating an online returns portal is the most efficient way to do so. Moreover, by integrating an online returns portal you are implementing several of the above-mentioned best practices at once. 

Automated returns platform, this is why 

Online shoppers buy online because of convenience. Yet when it comes to returns many online stores still use the same processes as when ecommerce first appeared. Nobody wants to work with paper return forms, not the clients and not the store owners, paper return forms are anything but smooth and frictionless. This are the reasons why you want to integrate a futureproof online returns platform in your store today: 

  • Optimal return experience: Your clients prefer easy and frictionless return processes and this is the easiest and smoothest of them all. They can easily arrange the return registration process online, choose the return delivery option that works best for them, they will be constantly updated on the status of their returned product(s) and they will receive their refund (or coupon) faster. 
  • Clear overview: The central dashboard with a clear overview of all your returns from any source incl. return reasons, keeps you fully up to date on past and pending returns.  
  • Reduce future returns: Provides real-time insight into your return data. Enabling ecommerce businesses to optimize product pages and other parts of the buying journey, as well as product range performance to avoid future returns. 
  • Hold on to earned revenue: Trough the returns portal you can offer customers a choice between a refund or store credit in coupons. A great way to hold on to the hard-earned revenue.  
  • Automate your return process: Save precious time dealing with the management and execution of all returns by automating the approval process. Your return policy decides which items are allowed to be returned and which items you reject. With return rules you can easily automate your policy. 

By implementing an online returns platform, you can create a returns process that is efficient, customer-centric, and aligned with industry standards. This will not only enhance the customer experience but also contribute to customer loyalty and satisfaction with your brand.