It’s Not Just About Free Return Shipping: What Your Ecommerce Business Can Do for the Holidays

Video of ecommerce business return policy and return labels for 2014 holiday shipping

As the volume of online purchases increases, it’s no surprise that the frequency of returns for ecommerce businesses is also rising.  In fact, 62 percent of shoppers returned or exchanged items in 2013 – an increase of 11 percent year-over-year – and we expect that number to grow even higher this holiday season.

While it’s true that buyers love free returns, that’s not the only thing they care about when it comes to the returns process. You don’t necessarily need to offer free return shipping to create a positive consumer experience.

What do consumers want in a returns experience?  Next to “low-cost” or “free” returns, buyers are really just looking for convenience. Sixty-two percent of shoppers want a return label included with their original purchase, while 61 percent would be just as happy with an easy-to-print return label.

So, what can ecommerce businesses do to create a positive returns experience this holiday season?  Make sure your return policy isn’t over-complicated, share the important details that buyers need to know and make it easy for customers to get access to return labels. Here’s how:

  • Use simple language when laying out the steps for requesting returns.
  • Set a window of time for returns and be clear about it on all documentation.
  • Explain what types of returns will be accepted (as well as what will not be accepted) and if there are any requirements the consumer needs to meet in order to get a refund.
  • If you are going to charge the customer for return shipping or deduct a restocking fee from his or her refund, be clear about when this applies and what the expected charges will be.

Most importantly, make sure this information is easy to find and available to customers before they make their purchase.  This will help prevent any unpleasant surprises. Plus, many shoppers review a return policy before they purchase an item. If you don’t have a return policy in place, you could already be losing out on potential business.

When it comes to offering buyers return shipping at an economical price, the USPS has the lowest shipping rates for lighter weight packages – not to mention the convenience of being able to simply hand packages to a carrier, drop it at any blue USPS collection box or hand packages off at the Post Office without having to wait in line.

Ecommerce businesses can also take advantage of one of the most exciting returns innovations Endicia launched this year: Pay-on-Use Returns.  This feature makes it possible for online sellers to create a positive, hassle-free return shipping experience without the risk of losing money on unused, pre-paid shipping labels or spending valuable time monitoring for refunds on those labels.

That’s because the postage for Pay-on-Use Return labels isn’t paid until the label is actually used.  And, with no minimum volume requirements, this can be a game changer for businesses of all sizes to stay competitive in the growing ecommerce market.  Check out what our co-founder, Harry Whitehouse, has to say about the benefits of Pay-on-Use Returns.

So, by defining a clear returns policy and leveraging technology and new services like Pay-on-Use Returns, you have the opportunity to make returns work for you and help reduce costs, increase efficiency and, most importantly, grow customer loyalty.

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