The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has changed the business world a lot. Consumers today feel more comfortable shopping online than ever before. Meanwhile, many physical stores were also affected and not a few business owners had to close physical stores to prevent losses. Today almost all businesses are shifting their priorities to digital stores, contactless delivery and other efforts to prevent crowds. However, this increase in online sales also has implications for consumer returns.
Industry analysts have long understood that increased eCommerce sales lead to greater returns. In general, about 30% of products purchased online will be returned to the seller, and the Covid-19 pandemic has also increased the return rate. There are several reasons why consumer returns for online shopping during the pandemic are higher. Therefore, you as a business owner must be able to anticipate it. But on the other hand, several surveys actually show a decrease in the rate of return over a certain period of time, especially when the number of Covid-19 spreads is increasing.
This decline is likely due to consumers wanting to avoid leaving the house during the pandemic. As we know when a customer wants to return a product, they have to leave the house to visit the local delivery counter, a risk that customers are reluctant to take during the lockdown period, especially when they are exposed to Covid-19 and have to self-isolate.
In addition, many business owners also extend the return deadline to 90 days to accommodate the situation during the pandemic so that the return process is felt to be more lenient and flexible. Various technology companies are currently also trying to improve the return process so that it can be done more quickly and easily so that the return rate can be reduced significantly.
With the rise of e-commerce businesses today, many experts predict that consumers who are new to the online shopping experience will maintain their habits even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Now is the time for your business to consider a fast and easy customer delivery and return service.
So, what can your e-commerce business do to ensure its return process is as efficient as possible?
Consider updating your return policy by extending the length of the return deadline. In addition to reducing the effort your current customers face in accessing delivery services, extending the customer return deadline can also reduce the urgency to return the product they purchased. The longer they have the product, the more they will be able to consider what they will do with the product instead of return it to you This is known as the endowment effect10 which suggests that people tend to feel that an object is more valuable if it is held for a longer period of time and that they are ultimately less likely to give it away when they feel they already have it.
With activity restrictions or lockdowns still in effect in many countries, consider offering package pick-up at home. A door-to-door courier service will help you pick up customer returns and have them shipped directly to you. Your customers will certainly find the return process easier and more professional. Plus, you can rest easy knowing that your returned product will be sent back to you on time and in perfect condition.
About 49% of online consumers will actively check your business' return policy before committing to a purchase. By sending a message or notification on the homepage of your website, customers can find out if you update your consumer return policy such as extending the return deadline. Although trivial, these small details can help you secure the level of sales, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic like now.
If you experience delays in processing returns, be sure to notify the customer in advance so they can wait and understand. You can also display the announcement of the delay on the main page of your website or when the buyer will checkout and choose the shipping method they want.
If you offer a return service where the courier will pick up the returned item directly from the customer's home, you can communicate this to the customer in advance. Explain to customers how the consumer return process will be carried out with minimal contact to comply with applicable health protocols and also maintain distance. You can also perform quarantine procedures for products that have been returned, for example 7 days after the goods are returned before putting them in inventory and reselling them.
You must find out the reason why customers return an item by asking for their feedback. That way, you can use the feedback to prevent customer returns from happening again. For example, if the product is easily damaged in shipping or the product description does not match. This feedback data will help you improve your products and services so that the return rate for a product can be reduced. It doesn't matter if you have to invest in improving your product because large customer returns will certainly reduce your future profits.
As many as 23% of product returns are caused by inappropriate product descriptions. So make sure you include lots of photos on the website including close up photos of your products along with descriptions such as size, material, maintenance method and more. That way customers will not feel disappointed and feel the need to make a return because the photos and descriptions you provide are very complete and accurate.
In a study conducted by Trust Pilot, about 47% of consumers said they would check online reviews while on a business's website before adding an item to their cart and deciding to buy. Customer reviews saying that your business processes returns quickly and easily will certainly benefit your business and can encourage other customers to buy from your online store.
The return service your business offers is an important investment in achieving success. Make sure you pay close attention to the customer return process as an important part of your customer service. Remember that a customer who is satisfied with your service can become a repeat customer. You should also know that customers prefer a simple, transparent, and free return service.
In a study conducted by the shipping company DHL, it was stated that when an e-commerce business offers an easy return service, customers will be more interested in making purchases of items that they have already added to their cart. Apart from that, you can also use software like ReturnKey which can help you manage the return process efficiently. That way your business can overcome returns during the Covid-19 pandemic and still make a profit.