If a customer wants to return an item, how quickly can they get a return shipping label to send it back?

If the answer isn’t, “within seconds,” then there’s room for improvement.

Despite the fact that as much as 40% of ecommerce purchases end in a return, customer return and exchange requests are often sent to the black hole of customer service requests, where they may need to wait up to a few days for a response.

A poor returns experience means that a customer is less likely to buy from you again, while 84% of customers who said a product return went well were likely to make another purchase in the future from the same brand — so it’s important to streamline and automate this component of the customer experience.

Doing so will not only enable your customers to make hassle-free returns and exchanges; it will also free up your customer support agents to deliver high-quality, personalized customer service for the situations that do require personal attention. That will help you deliver a great customer experience from the first touchpoint all the way through the post-purchase experience.

Here are some guidelines on optimizing your ecommerce returns process:

Build a clear, easy-to-find return policy

Don’t turn your return policy into a 10-page legal document — customers should be able to understand the essence of your return policy in just a few sentences. For example, “free 30-day returns on all unworn merchandise, except final sale items” should get the point across. Build a return policy page that lists out the specifics on exceptions to your standard policy, and place a short summary of your policy on every product page. Make sure that customers understand how and when they can return a product before they buy it, and you’ll cut the number of questions around returns way down.

Create a detailed FAQ that includes a section on the returns process

Your FAQ is another great port of call for customers to seek out answers to their questions, so make sure that it clarifies any questions they may have on returns. For example, you might include details on what might disqualify an item from return (obvious wear and tear, tags removed, etc.). It should also describe your standard return processes so customers understand how to ship back or drop off their return, and how quickly they can expect to receive their money back.

Use chatbots to direct customers to the right pages or information

By placing a chatbot on your website or mobile app, you’ll be able to route customers to the right location depending on what they’re trying to do — if they’re interested in learning more about how your products are made, you can direct them to an intro video; if they’d like to make a return or exchange, you can easily guide them to your returns portal, using natural language processing to understand their intentions.

Automate your returns process

By integrating an ecommerce returns management software tool like Loop into your tech stack, you’ll be able to offer your customers a fully automated returns experience that enables them to meet their goals instantly, instead of waiting for customer support.

With a returns management solution like Loop, you can:

  • Send customers to a self-service returns portal where they can instantly process a return or exchange
  • Get data insights to understand why they’re returning a product
  • Pull from real-time inventory to recommend alternative products for exchange, in response to their return reasons
  • Incentive exchanges by offering bonus credit to choose a new product rather than request a refund
  • Use conditional logic to determine whether a product is return-eligible, or whether you should refuse the return or issue a refund while letting the customer keep the item
  • Integrate with other apps to automate return label printing to route the product back to the closest warehouse, using the most cost-effective shipping method

Loop takes the returns management process out of your customer support team’s ticket queue, and places it back in the hands of your customers. They’ll be able to use intuitive, streamlined workflows to process returns and exchanges independently, with automatic approvals or rejections based on the item type and condition. And they’ll receive personalized recommendations for replacement items, encouraging more exchanges: Loop customers retain 40% of revenue from returns through the exchange process, on average.

Why automate returns management?

By automating your ecommerce business’ returns process, you’ll be able to lighten the load on your customer support team and reduce customer wait times down to nothing when processing a return or exchange.

That will help you both save costs on manual labor, and deliver a superior customer experience.

Your returns management solution can easily integrate with your ecommerce store and the other apps you use to manage it, so that you’ll be able to easily manage reverse logistics with no need for manual review on any return request. It makes the entire returns process a seamless experience – on both the customer and the business side.

By optimizing your returns experience, you’ll be able to use simple, hassle-free returns as a competitive advantage. Two-thirds of customers check a merchant’s return policy page before making a purchase, so if your customers understand how well you stand behind your products, they’ll be able to overcome any hesitation about making an initial purchase. And a flexible and generous return policy will make them more likely to continue making purchases and referring friends and family.

The post-purchase experience is a key part of the customer lifecycle – by streamlining it with best-in-class returns management technology, you’re likely to win over new customers and gain loyalty from the ones you already have.

Interested in learning more about how Loop can help you automate your returns process? Sign up for a demo.