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What’s the most inevitable and annoying part of e-commerce?

RETURNS!

They cost time and money. And most of the time they’re not a good fit to be re-sold again. Meaning low profit margins and conversion rates + customer dissatisfaction.

Well, yes, all true.

But considering that they’re an unavoidable part of e-commerce, why not changing our perspective towards returns. Indeed, returns offer great opportunities if treated well, and gaining an edge over today’s huge competition really depends on them.

Today, consumer demands are super high. But if you provide a customer-friendly return process, that can change the whole game.

And here, we’ll tell you exactly how to do it.

Stay tuned to keep your customers happy and lead to higher conversion rates. You’re about to find out everything you should know to tackle returns and boost your conversions in 2022!

Numbers never lie. Here are the risks of e-commerce returns:

Did you know that 84% of European online shoppers regularly return a product if they’re not satisfied?

Yes, that’s a big one! Today’s consumers are more critical than ever before.

Shoppers are getting more experienced in online shopping and they expect higher levels of quality and service from online retailers. That’s probably why online retailers face returns 2x more than brick and mortars.

Moreover, 9 out of 10 online customers extensively research products prior to buying, ranging from prices to product details and shipping costs.

So, there’s a relatively high chance that those shoes turn out to be smaller than expected, or the color is not as expected.

Speaking of shoes, good to mention that the average return rate in Fashion & Accessories in Europe is 87%.

💡Interesting Fact

Our latest study shows that while 89% of Germans and 87% of Dutchies return their product regularly, Austrians tend to forget to return their items and almost one-fifth of them see this as a reason not to return.

Time to revisit your return strategy

Don’t forget that returns involve risks for your business only if you’re missing to have an optimized returns process.

If your product is not up to scratch for whatever reason, your customers should be ensured about a clear and painless returns process as possible.

Just make it easy… Not only for your customers but also for yourself.

Believe us, a seamless return process will positively reinforce their buying behavior.

Here are what you can do to focus on quick wins with your returns:

  • Offer longer return period
  • Offer a customer-centric returns policy
  • Provide a ready to use the shipping label
  • Consider flexible return methods
  • Offer fast and alternative refund options
  • Reduce high shipping costs
  • Offer a sustainable return process

Easy and crystal-clear communication is needed

Did you know that 84% of European consumers regularly check the return policy before completing their purchase?

And considering that 71% of consumers say they would not order at all if they can’t find information about the return process, yes you need a proper return policy in 2022.

Long story short, your good service starts as soon as a potential customer visits your online store’s homepage and sees a visible return policy over there.

Not through a pop-up, extra click, or in the fine print, but clearly stated and in easy-to-understand language.

Don’t forget to add links to your return policy in all follow-up forms of online communication. In doing so, customers will get answers to their questions in a quick and easy way, which saves a lot of time and increases your store’s conversion.

To do this right, ensure that:

  • Your return policy is clearly visible everywhere from your homepage, to your confirmation and tracking emails. The good news is you simply send a link to your return portal and return policy in all your Track & Trace e-mails with Sendcloud.
  • Be clear and transparent, so your customers don’t have to look for information. This way you treat your return policy as a crucial part of your unique value proposition.
  • Your return policy is precise and clear. People should be able to see the terms and conditions at a glance. This includes the return period, the costs involved and when they can expect their refund. Don’t forget to adhere to all the terms and conditions such as the customer’s right to withdraw from the purchase.
Multiple refunding options for returns.

Offer multiple return methods

90% of online shoppers have a specific preference when it comes to returning their package. So, they want to be able to decide for themselves how, when and from where they will return an item.

While some want to take their package to a drop-off point, some want their returns to be picked up from their house.

So why not be flexible with them?

You can offer multiple return methods through Sendcloud’s return portal.

Your customers can pick the drop-off point or you can offer store locations based on your preference. So, Sendcloud enables you to create return labels yourself and support multiple courier services for your customers.

This way, you can lead to more repeat purchases and boost your conversions.

Flexible return methods with Sendcloud.

Understand your data to prevent returns

When a customer returns an item you’ll obviously want to know the reason why. 

That’s why we made sure that in our new return module, customers can indicate alongside each item why they chose to return it.

Was the item too small, was the quality subpar, or did something get damaged in transport? You can find all this feedback in your return overview.

Having a clear overview of your returns statistic will help you to optimize your processes to reduce returns in the future. 

Here is a quick snapshot of the data you can analyze via Sendcloud: 

The amount of returns of the last 7 days, last 14 days and last 30 days.

  • Total returns
  • A line graph showing the amount of returns per day
  • Shipments per carrier
  • Shipments per country
  • The most returned products
  • The most common return reasons 

How to utilize this data to diminish the number of future returns

Post notifications with products

Do you find the same type of shoes are often shipped as return items because they were smaller than expected? Then you could post a notification on your website about this. 

Just a simple ‘please note, these shoes are on the small side!’, and you have warned customers in advance. This increases the chance they will order the right size straight away, which means they won’t have to return the shoes they ordered.

Improve your online offering

Data sometimes shows whether the quality you offer lives up to the quality you intend to offer. Sometimes you find out via customer feedback that a certain item doesn’t live up to their expectations. 

You can then take that information to your supplier, or you could choose to switch to a new alternative. This way you improve your overall offering, while you avoid customers returning items because of quality issues.

Choose top-notch transport

Courier services process hundreds of thousands of packages on a daily basis. So it’s not a surprise that something goes wrong every now and then, and sometimes items are damaged in transit.

If you see in your return dashboard this happens more often, then that could indicate something else is going on. 

Ask your courier services why packets are getting damaged. Perhaps your packaging may not be strong enough, perhaps it’s time to look for a different courier company.

An efficient return policy will help you scale internationally

If you’re not already doing business internationally, an easy return policy will definitely help you to get your foot in the door of the worldwide retail market. 

Customers are everywhere and their expectations differ per country. For example, our recent study shows that;

  • 89% of German consumers return their product if they’re not satisfied. 47% see returns as a big hassle and 38% think returning a product is even more expensive than keeping it. 
  • Very similar to German consumers, Dutch consumers in the Netherlands also consider returning as a big hassle but 87% of them are still returning their items if they’re not satisfied.

However, one thing is certain that everyone wants to be able to easily return items regardless of where they live.

Just as they’d expect from their local online retailers, consumers also want to be able to return items to international retailers easily without having to pay huge costs. 

Regarding return costs, European online consumers are very price-sensitive as 77% agree free returns are convincing to order from an online store more frequently.

So, all in all, you can win trust by reconsidering your returns strategy and this is really important for your international growth. 

For sure, scaling to international markets is not only about this. There’s also a big language barrier you have to overcome. 

But don’t worry about it. Sendcloud’s return portal is available in multiple languages. Via multi-language track and trace, you can switch languages with one click of a button.

And through personalized tracking mails, a customer in Madrid can return an item just as easily as a Dutch customer.

Sendcloud also has reliable logistical partners throughout all of Europe. 

This way international customers can also choose which way they’ll return an item, and as an online retailer you don’t have to source separate return solutions for each country.

💡Insider Note

60% of European consumers prefer to receive a ready-to-use shipping label to return unwanted merchandise. In this case, you can provide ready-to-use shipping labels with Sendcloud easily.

The only thing your customers need to do is return their packages at a local post office through your return label. There they’ll be able to scan the label, which makes your international return policy even more hassle-free.

Sendcloud testimonial on returns.

Start tackling returns without any hassle today

Sendcloud’s return portal supports you every step of the way on the customer-friendly returns process. 

It has been created to provide customers with a flexible return experience, while the merchant remains in control of the entire process. 

Meaning, you’ll save hours of work on customer service, because both you and your customers are aware of each step of the return process. 

You’ll find the return module in your online Sendcloud-environment and it offers you the following advantages:

  • instant access to 130+ global and local carriers through one integration
  • 390.837 service points & pick-up locations across Europe.
  • a clear overview to have full control over your returns;
  • a customer-friendly return portal for more turnover;
  • the possibility for your customers to create return labels themselves;
  • automated, multi-language and branded tracking track & trace emails
  • the opportunity to collect data and decrease incoming returns;
  • an improved user interface and design (also on mobile devices)
  •  only one API for all your return needs

Does that sound complicated and expensive to implement?

Well, believe us, it’s not!

Create your free account and discover how to transform returns from a bottleneck to a growth accelerator!

Iris Dings

Iris Dings is Head of Content at Sendcloud. With her great passion for online marketing, e-commerce and logistics, she is always looking for content that can help you with your online business.

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