When it comes to the buyer’s journey, it’s essential to build an omnichannel experience through every stage.

When shoppers are navigating a purchasing decision, they often use multiple channels to engage with your brand—including visiting your website, your mobile app, and potentially a brick-and-mortar store. They might view content across social media, email marketing, SMS, printed mailers or catalogs, and store displays. Having the opportunity to consider their decision from multiple angles gives them confidence in their choice, and empowers them to shop in the way that suits them best. 

In fact, Target found that omnichannel consumers spent four times as much as in-store only shoppers, and 10 times more than digital-only shoppers. By ensuring that your shoppers have the ability to effortlessly shift between in-store and ecommerce options, you’re far more likely to earn (and keep) their business.

That’s just as true when it comes to the post-purchase experience. Anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent of purchases end up being returned—so it’s essential that you give customers the same omnichannel functionality they appreciate while making a purchase during the returns experience. By prioritizing the customer experience in the returns process, you’ll be able to retain more revenue and drive higher customer loyalty.

Here’s a look at how to make omnichannel returns a key part of your post-purchase experience, using a returns management solution like Loop.

Offer customers choices that fit their omnichannel return needs

Just as it’s important to deliver a personalized customer experience during the buying process, it’s crucial to offer your shoppers a variety of options when they need to return an item.

  • Offer a generous returns policy
    Build a flexible return policy that gives shoppers enough time to make a genuine decision about a product — we recommend a minimum of 30 days. Offering a longer return period won’t encourage a higher return rate, as most returns are processed within the first two weeks, regardless of return period. But it will make them more likely to make a purchase in the first place: 84 percent of shoppers always check the returns policy before deciding whether to buy a product.

  • Give choices around how to send back returns
    When a customer does want to return an item, it’s important to make the returns process as hassle-free as possible. That means making it convenient for your customers. While some prefer to use a printable return mailing label to repackage and ship the returned product back from the comfort of home, many would rather avoid packing the item, preferring to take the product to a nearby drop-off center where it can be packed and shipped professionally. If your brand has in-store locations, accepting returns there will make it easy to get your returned products back into inventory; if not, you can use a network of third-party drop-off centers that serve as distribution hubs for returned packages. If you’re a Loop customer, you’ll be able to use our third-party integrations to gain access to a nationwide network of return locations, so most customers should be able to find a drop-off center within several miles.

  • Provide omnichannel communications through the returns process
    Just as it’s important for customers to have access to multiple marketing channels when shopping for a product, it’s important to use omnichannel methods to alert them about their progress during the returns process. Your returns management solution should provide functionality to offer tracking, shipping, and refund updates across a range of channels, including email, SMS, and in-app messaging. Shoppers should have access to real-time data showing the refund status of their return, and, if they’ve ordered an exchange, they should be able to track the new product shipment through the supply chain. Loop’s returns management platform offers carrier integration, so that you can send branded alerts to your customers to ensure that they’re informed throughout the entire post-purchase journey.

  • Offer multiple options for returns management
    Keep in mind that sending the returned product back to your warehouse is not always the best option — close to 10 billion pounds of returns end up as landfill waste each year because they can’t be resold. Rather than routing every product back to the warehouse by default, your returns management solution can use conditional logic to determine the right path for each returned product. For products that aren’t cost-effective to return to inventory, you can offer your customers a “returnless refund,” in which they can keep the product but still get a full refund, helping your brand save on reverse logistics costs. Or, you can partner with donation centers, and route the returned products to these facilities where they can be repurposed.

Modern customers are used to switching back and forth between ecommerce and in-store shopping effortlessly. As a retailer, it’s important that you’re tracking every interaction they have with your brand, no matter which channel they’re using, so that you have the full context of their buyer’s journey and can offer solutions to support them at every step of the process. Omnichannel retail requires deep integration between your ecommerce platform and your in-store POS, ensuring that you can both provide a great customer experience and easily manage your supply chain at every stage of the sales and return process.

How Loop can help with omnichannel returns

As a best-in-class returns management solution, Loop is focused on helping you streamline the returns process—both on the customer and the merchant side. Our technology can support your brand in building an omnichannel returns strategy with features including:

  • A self-service customer returns portal
    Shoppers can initiate their own returns, leading to a more efficient returns experience that reduces reliance on your customer support team. They’ll be able to select from any eligible product they’ve purchased, and choose to print a return label, bring the item to a nearby drop-off center for shipping, or bring the item back to your physical store.

  • Optimized reverse logistics
    Get returned products back into inventory faster and more efficiently. Loop’s reverse logistics integrations can automatically route returned products to help you balance inventory levels across all of your warehouses and stores, using the most cost-efficient carriers and shipping methods to do so.

  • Returns data insights
    Loop’s analytics functionality makes it easy for retailers to understand which products are coming back most frequently, and why. Your brand can use these metrics to help you improve your omnichannel marketing strategy, ensuring that customers get an accurate picture of the products they’re considering before they purchase them, which will help you lower your future return rate.

  • Omnichannel return options
    Optimize your supply chain by ensuring that each returned product goes to the right place for its intended purpose—whether that’s staying with the customer; returning to a warehouse or physical store, or being sent to a donation center or recycling plant. Loop’s conditional logic can automatically determine the right path for any returned product, based on category, condition, and other factors, helping you make your returns process more sustainable and cost-effective.

  • Real-time return tracking
    Ensure that your customers always have peace of mind throughout the returns process, with real-time tracking from our integration partners across omnichannel communication channels including email, SMS, and in-app messaging. They’ll get alerts and notifications regarding their return process, and the shipping status of their product exchange if eligible.

  • Optimization for exchanges
    Retain more revenue from your return process with Loop’s “Shop Now” and “Shop Later” features. When a customer requests a return, you’ll be able to offer them instant access to their store credit to use towards another product from your store. By incentivizing exchanges, Loop merchants are able to retain up to 40 percent of revenue from returns that would otherwise be lost—and preserve valuable customer relationships.

An omnichannel customer experience

Whether customers are buying in-store and returning online, or buying online and returning in-store, they want the flexibility to use the right process to fit their needs at any given time. The future of returns is omnichannel.

By adopting a returns management solution, you can make it easier to deliver a great customer experience through the post-purchase process, and streamline your reverse logistics and inventory management process. Improve customer satisfaction, drive business efficiencies, and stay ahead of shopping trends by leveraging a best-in-class returns management platform to help you manage an omnichannel strategy through the entire buyer’s journey.

Want to learn more? Get in touch for a Loop demo.