You want to offer your customers excellent customer service, that’s what they’re asking you for. But sometimes customers return goods very easily. The number of returns is particularly high in the fashion industry. According to NOS, half of all orders are returned to large webshops. With a well-thought-out return policy, you prevent returns.
Disadvantages of returns
Handling returned goods is labor intensive. From unpacking, checking and putting things back to updating your inventory and customer system and refunding money. It costs you time and time costs money. And that’s not even talking about transportation costs. A return will cost you an average of 12.50 euros, according to studies by NOS and Afterpay. In addition, all the forwarding back and forth of online purchases is also bad for the environment. And what about damaged and useless items that cannot be returned to the warehouse or your store. What are you going to do with it?
“Depending on the price and the product, companies are increasingly finding solutions that suit them,” says Harry Bijl, retail expert at the INretail industry association. “Low-cost goods are increasingly going to stores, being traded as used or even destroyed.” According to Bijl, companies can develop special procedures and guidelines to prevent returns, but returning is also normal buying behavior. “People want a choice and buy the best product. They order more so they can compare.”
Improve return policy
You can limit the number of returns by helping a customer make the right choice. This can be done in the following 7 ways.
Expand your product information
In the most ideal case, a customer is satisfied at once so he does not return the purchased product. Extensive product information and the use of clear and colorful photos can help with this. Also provide additional explanations and directions. With home appliances, you need to think about the size of a unit and the exact color. Provide tips and information about clothing, such as: ‘This clothing is small, choose 1 size larger’ or ‘Our model is 1.85 meters and wears size S’.
There are programs that help the customer choose the right clothing size. Tom Sans, director of Sans-Online, is working on such a program. “This digital program provides basic information about the size of different brands. The international program is continuously supplemented with customer reactions and reasons for return. A customer can fill in their information based on questions, after which he or she will receive tailored advice. As a result, the customer no longer has to order multiple copies of each item. “
2. Examine buying behavior
According to Bijl, setting up a webshop is mainly about conversion, or the actions you want visitors to take. Beginners often think too easily about starting a webshop. You want people to act, but for that you need to design your website smartly. “Encouraging visitors to take the right actions requires insight into buying behavior and how people experience your website.” Do your research on this. You can do this yourself or hire a market research agency. No matter what you do, it requires ongoing knowledge, time and budget to develop an efficient webshop. ”
Think about return costs
Determine your strategy. Do you choose free return or do you let the customer pay for it? In order to be able to compete with all other providers, we try to keep prices as low as possible, but this is one of the reasons why the margins are small. If customers want to return and you pay the return cost, this amount will also be deducted from your profit. If your customer pays the return costs, these costs are not for you in any case.
Because some major online stores offer free returns, some consumers expect it to always be free to return an order. But this is certainly not the case. Free returns are a service, not an obligation. Thuiswinkel.org states that if your customer exercises his right of withdrawal, the return costs are in principle at his expense. You need to report this on your website. You state how the customer can return at the latest when the order has been delivered. You must reimburse the original shipping cost to the customer. Did the customer pay for extra fast delivery? Then you do not have to repay the extra amount.
Do not charge for the repair or replacement of a defective product. This is stated in the law. Return costs for repair and replacement are at your expense.
The customer pays return costs
In 2019, Sans Online decided to let the customer pay for its return shipment, in order to reduce the number of returns. Customers can buy a return label of 2.95 euros via the website. Sans was afraid to implement its new return policy, but it quickly became apparent that most customers accepted the return cost. ‘Some responded with a big mouth, others shrugged and had no qualms about it. Revenue fell for a very short time, but recovered quickly. ” The new policy was effective. “People are more aware of what they are ordering and returning. First, for example, they ordered 7 items. 1 item came back the same day, after 2 or 3 days some more items were returned and after a week and a half another 1. It is now much smaller. ”
The customer returns for free
Free returns are another option. Vincent Romviel from Thuiswinkel.org says: “There is no such thing as free. Somewhere, free returns are included in the price. Free returns are a ‘unique selling point’. Customers see it as a service. Some customers even lead deliberately for webshops, where it is free to return. ”
Do you want your customers to return for free? Then it is wise to map the return cost in advance. And just then, it is important that your website is set up in such a way that you direct the customer.
Do you do dropshipping? Be aware of the return procedure. If you want your customer to return products to the foreign supplier, you must inform the customer about this in advance. If you do not do this, you will have to pay the return costs yourself.
4. Has a good storage system
To avoid return, an updated storage system is a must. The customer who orders something from your webshop usually expects you to deliver the item quickly. Unless otherwise stated. If you do not have the products in stock and your customer is not aware of this, you can not deliver at that time. So if the delivery takes too long, the customer can buy from someone else. Your item will then be returned because the customer has already been delivered.
Sense: “You promise to deliver something to the customer. If the customer orders a certain size and the system does not give a signal, the customer assumes that you deliver the item within the agreed time. If you can not deliver, it is a cancellation, which is the same as a return. And you also have the chance for a negative review. ”
5. Improve the packaging
Develop smart packaging. Not to lower the threshold for return, but to get the item returned neat and undamaged. That way, you can resell it. An additional benefit may be that different packaging contributes to your personal branding. For example, because you dress the packaging in such a way that it is a party to open a package from you.
For more package tips, read the interview: Your package around the world with no problems.
6. Extend the cooling period
The customer has a legal deadline of at least 14 days to reconsider. If the customer decides within the reflection period that he does not want the item, he can return it and you must refund the purchase amount. Your customer needs to be able to cancel an order in several ways. For example, via e-mail, telephone or website.
According to Romviel, consumers are less likely to return a product if the return period is longer. “If there is no urgency to return, consumers will be attached to an item. With a longer cancellation period, customers also more often forget to return an item within the specified period. The number of return packages is even 10% less with a longer return period than with a return period of 14 days. “
7. Select another audience
Who is your customer? Sense: “Build a relationship with the customer. We used to go for the customer who can be caught quickly because it is revenue. Now we are working on a long-term relationship with the customer. Know your customer well and tie him to you. A satisfied customer will be happy to come back and order again. ”
By designing your website properly, you can bind your customers to you. The more personally you tailor your offer to your customers, the fewer returns, ”says Bijl. “That coordination only works if you have personal conversations or have really good data insight. You need to know what people need. If you inadvertently seduce Jan and everyone, or if you do not live up to expectations, more will come back. ”