In recent years, the Internet has opened up new markets for many retailers. Suddenly, a few clicks is all it takes for a consumer—even one living on the other side of the world—to purchase a product from an eCommerce website.
However, along with new opportunities, the online retail boom has also brought increased competition for many businesses. As eCommerce continues to grow globally, so too does the intensity of that competition.
Realizing the need for new strategies to give them an edge, online retailers have sought ways to provide a better customer experience than their rivals. One approach has been offering free shipping services. Merchants have also focused on improving their parcel returns services to make the process of sending orders back more convenient for customers. For instance, many online retailers are now offering free returns or extended return windows that last for many weeks.
Why Businesses Shouldn’t See Returns as a Financial Burden
In the past, many retailers did not consider the need for liberal returns policies. They didn’t think the issue mattered much to shoppers, especially since few merchants offered returns programs designed for customer convenience.
However, while many customers managed to overcome the difficulty of the typical returns process and get their orders back to the merchant when necessary, they eventually began to actively seek out retailers that had more customer-friendly return policies—and avoid those that didn’t. That way, shoppers knew the process would be easier the next time they needed to return an order. Returns then became an increasingly important part of the customer experience.
Today, retailers must realize that while customers appreciate the convenience of online shopping, they also expect to be able to easily return the products they purchase if necessary. After all, convenience aside, online shopping presents considerable uncertainties for customers. For one thing, they can’t see the products in person. Also, whenever anything is shipped, there is the risk that the wrong item will be sent or the parcel will be damaged in transit.
Convenient and Free Returns for Customers: A Must for Online Retailers
At first, it may seem counterintuitive for a company to spend big dollars on returns services. In recent years, the economy has been unsteady at times, and many businesses continue to struggle with diminished margins resulting from volatile market situations. Outbound shipping operations are costly enough on their own, so it is not impossible to understand why some companies may be reluctant to offer liberal parcel returns programs that include conveniences such as prepaid shipping labels.
However, as many online retailers have discovered, returns management actually has the potential to become a lucrative profit center that can help companies increase their revenue. By helping to improve customer satisfaction, convenient parcel returns services can pay for themselves—and then some—by promoting repeat purchases and word-of-mouth referrals. The positive experience you provide by making returns free and simple can help turn one-time purchases into repeat sales, and loyal customers into brand evangelists who will be more than happy to advertise your products and services.