Returns and refunds are an inevitable part of the retail industry. While they may seem like a burden, they are also an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business.
Nowadays, online retailers and eCommerce businesses still struggle with returns. Across the globe, returns reached over one trillion U.S. dollars in 2019. EMEA returns were at the peak point, reaching 381.8 billion U.S. dollars and surpassing North America, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.
Here are the top three 3 businesses’ challenges when it comes to returns:
The cost of restocking, shipping, and processing the return is one of the biggest return challenges. Consider implementing a restocking fee or requiring customers to pay for return shipping to address this.
Length of time for a refund
This process can be frustrating for customers and lead to negative reviews and a loss of trust in the business. Businesses should process returns as quickly as possible and provide clear communication to the customer about the status of their refund.
The return process can be challenging, especially if the businesses is processing a high volume of returns. A sure way to solve this is by implementing a returns portal or dedicated software that allows customers to track the status of returns and refunds in real time.
How to improve the refund process in your business
Now that we are aware of the challenges you can face, here are six tips you can use to make the refund process seamless:
1. Encourage sales with easy returns
It may seem counterintuitive, but a liberal refund policy can encourage sales. Customers are more likely to buy from a retailer if they know they can return a product if it doesn’t meet their expectations. By offering a hassle-free refund policy, you’re giving your customers the confidence to buy from you, even if they’re unsure about the product.
Consider highlighting your refund policy on your website, social media channels, and in-store signage. This will reassure customers that they can shop confidently, ultimately increasing sales.
2. Reduce customer friction
You might be wondering how to improve customer experience in your SME. The answer is simple: the refund process should be as easy as possible for the customer. This means minimising the steps required to process a return and refund and providing clear instructions on how to do so.
To reduce customer friction, consider implementing an online returns portal to allow customers to initiate a return online, print out a shipping label, and track the progress of their refund. It is much more convenient than requiring customers to call or email your customer service team.
Another way to reduce customer friction is to use a good payment gateway to make the return process seamless. When a customer initiates a return, the payment gateway should be able to process the refund promptly without any unnecessary delays. It can help build trust with the customer and ensure they have a frictionless experience.
3. Help customers decide to buy from you against competitors
A hassle-free refund policy can be a differentiator against your competitors. Customers are more likely to choose a retailer with a good refund policy over one that doesn’t offer refunds or makes the process difficult. Ensure you have a returns FAQ section on your website covering basic questions such as:
- What is your returns policy?
- How long does it take for a refund to process?
- How do customer returns work with Buy Now Pay Later options?
- What do I do if my product is faulty?
Consider offering a longer return window than your competitors to make your refund policy stand out: instead of offering a 30-day return window, offer a 60 or 90-day window. This will give customers more time to decide if they want to keep the product, which can lead to more sales.
4. Increase repeat customers
To encourage repeat business, consider offering a loyalty program that rewards customers for their purchases. Include discounts, free shipping, and other perks incentivising customers to buy from you again.
Free in-store returns are another way to encourage repeat business as brick-and-mortar, and online retail become more integrated. In this case, you will benefit from a modern POS system streamlining the process.
5. Boost trust
Customers are likely to trust a retailer that stands behind their products and offers a hassle-free refund policy. Build customer trust by highlighting customer reviews and testimonials on your website. This will show potential customers that you have a track record of satisfied customers who have had positive experiences with your products and refund process.
6. Use data insights to increase profitability
By tracking the reasons for returns and analysing the data, you can identify trends and make improvements to your products and processes. This can reduce the number of future returns.
For example, if you notice that a particular product is frequently returned for a specific reason, you can improve the product to address that issue. Similarly, if you notice a particular shipping carrier causing more returns than others, you can switch to another one.
Customers expect a smooth refund process and easy returns whenever they shop online. Our digital payments solution helps businesses with payment capabilities for their online commerce and process refunds with Visa Direct within 2 hours.