Customer Returns: A Guide For Ecommerce Entrepreneurs

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While every ecommerce entrepreneur may claim they understand that customers choosing to return a product is part and parcel of business, there is no denying the fact that every return feels like a setback. There are obvious financial ramifications of the return, but there’s also an understandable emotional reaction – after all, being told a customer doesn’t want an item that your business sells is never easy.


Nevertheless, returns are part and parcel of running an ecommerce business; you can’t please everyone all the time. Accepting that returns will happen whatever you do is a vital part of business, as then you can implement coping strategies – both practically and emotionally speaking – that can ensure you are able to navigate this tricky terrain with ease. Below, we’ve put together a few simple tips that can help ensure your ecommerce returns process runs as smoothly as possible – both for you and for your business.


#1 – Write a straightforward returns policy


Your returns policy doesn’t need to be 20 pages of legalese; a simple, straightforward policy that informs customers of their rights, and your expectations regarding the condition of returns, is more than sufficient. Think of it like this: the simpler your returns policy is, the easier it will be for your customers to adhere to it.


#2 – Make returns as simple as possible


If a customer wants to return an item, then it’s usually best to ensure this process is as simple as possible. Ideally, you should cover the cost of shipping, and include returns labels and instructions in every parcel your send. This is because ease of returns is often an influencing factor for ecommerce customers, and a good returns process is conducive to retaining that customer in future.


There is a particular wrinkle to consider, however; if you sell products across the globe, then a simple returns process is often easier said than done. It may be best to opt for a location-specific mailing address to help you manage this, be that a US business address for US customers, a Dublin PO box for Irish customers, and similar solutions for other locations.


#3 – Communicate with the customer as soon as possible


When you receive a returned product, you need to inspect the item to decide your next step, be that approving the return or declining it due to concerns about the condition of the item. Either way, communicate your decision to the customer as soon as you possibly can, as this will greatly improve your chances of retaining that customer in future.


#4 – Focus on the positives


When you receive a return, take a moment to read back through your company’s order history, noting all the instances where a return wasn’t requested. This should help to balance your thoughts and allow you to put each return you process into perspective.


If you can keep the tips above in mind and implement the returns strategies your business needs, you should eventually be able to see customer returns as a standard part of a business – just something to deal with, process, and then leave in the past where they belong.


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