4 Signs It’s Time for a New Return Process

Online retail sales are at an all-time high. According to research from Forrester, online retail sales will exceed $520 billion in the next two years. But with all of these sales come the daunting prospect of returns.

Today’s shoppers prefer to buy from retailers with liberal return policies, especially when shopping online. This is especially true for apparel, where shoppers want to verify size and fit in person. But returns come at a high cost.

As a retailer, it’s essential to have a robust return process that allows for fast processing and actionable data. After all, 95% of customers who are satisfied with the returns process said they’ll purchase from the retailer again, and 40% of customers that made a return bought a replacement item from the same retailer, a Narvar returns report reveals.  

The right return process will allow you to serve your customers, adhere to your return policy, and gain insights into why people are making returns. Is your return process serving you? Here are 4 signs that it’s time for a new way to handle returns.

1. Customers don’t adhere to your stated return policy

You have a stated return policy. Perhaps you offer free returns, but only if the item is shipped back within 30 days. Whatever your policy, you need a solution that encourages compliance.

Most people slap the pre-printed return label on the box without checking the return policy. Having an online process that walks customers through their return is not only easier for the consumer, but can also remind them that an item is not eligible for return.

2. Your customers are calling into support wondering about their refunds

A good return solution is relatively self-sufficient, running on its own without much manual work from your team. Not only that, but customers can find out where their return order is and gain an understanding of processing times.

If customers are calling into support with questions about their returns or refunds, your process isn’t providing the information they need. They shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to make a return. Instead, they should be offered a frictionless, self-service journey that is easy to complete and gives them peace of mind. As a result, customer support can spend more of their time handling more complex issues.

3. You don’t have visibility into the reasons for returns

Consumers return products for many reasons: they don’t fit, aren’t what they expected, are damaged, or the customer simply changed her mind, for example. Do you have insight into the biggest reasons items are coming back to you?

Understanding why someone returns an item is crucial to bettering your business, and potentially prevents additional returns through making simple corrections in a timely fashion. It allows you to adjust product descriptions and photos or add expectations around sizing on the product detail page, or even make changes in the supply chain or phase out items that aren’t meeting quality standards.

If you’re not receiving this insight, it’s time to upgrade your return process so that it requires customers to cite a reason for sending items back.  

4. You don’t have many repeat customers

Every retailer wants repeat customers —  because it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer than to keep one that you already have. If you’re noticing that you have many one-time customers and not many that come back over and over again, it’s worth exploring if your return system is to blame.

This could be because your return system is too cumbersome. Customers may have trouble understanding the process, printing shipping labels, or simply initiating a return. All of these factors will make them reticent to purchase from you again.

Final thoughts

Returns are costly to a retailer, and if they’re not right, they can take up too much time and resource. If you’re not able to easily enforce your return policy, field lots of return-oriented support calls, and don’t have visibility into the reasons for returns, it may be time to upgrade to a new process. To learn more about how to select the right solution, read our ebook The Retailer’s Guide to Buying a Return Solution.