Return policies are no longer just a one-size-fits-all process. Now, consumers want to see how your returns policy falls into your brand’s values and core messaging. Without a consistent brand voice throughout all of your processes and policies, you can easily lose credibility or contradict what your brand supposedly stands for.
Why? Well, imagine if your brand was all about sustainability and giving back to the world. And then you’d copied a standard returns policy from your competitor which was a hassle-free policy that didn’t really require rhyme or reason… Isn’t that wasteful and off-brand…?
As such, a sustainable brand would then change their policy to make the most out of a return; by either asking the customer to donate it or sending only accepting fully functioning returns so that they can be cleaned and resold.
This is just a simple scenario to show why making sure every one of your policies is on-brand. According to Invesp, 67% of shoppers check the returns policy before proceeding to check out, so don’t get caught out on the last hurdle.
3 on-brand returns policy options
There are three key ways to improve your return policy and make it a little more on brand: Focusing on the customers, the products, or the environment. Sustainability is a huge consumer trend with no signs of slowing in momentum. On the other hand, focusing on the products themselves can also reduce the number of returns having the be processed.
Eco-friendly brands or those brands looking to improve their sustainability or carbon footprint can benefit from increased popularity. Consumers love brands that mirror their own values and as such, are on the lookout for those trying to make positive changes.
If your brand is already looking at eco-friendly supply chain options, don’t let your research stop there. Reverse logistics – ie your returns policy – requires just as much thought.
Why are things being returned?
The best way to display sustainability through your returns policy is by reducing the number of returns to start with. By analyzing customer feedback and your current supply chain, you will be able to understand why so many products are being returned, and how to fix it. This might be changing a particular component or even providing more detailed information on the product page.
Can you offer exchanges?
For those returns that are a little less easy to fix, try to offer exchanges rather than refunds. Not all products that are returned are entirely broken and as such, a returned item could easily be refurbished or simply cleaned up before being resold. Meanwhile, the customer can receive a replacement to use.
Where do products go when they’re not fit for resale?
Depending on what type of product you offer, there may be life left in a returned item – even if it isn’t fit for resale. Brands in the fashion industry often work with donation centers or charities so that returns can still find a home. Charities may sell the product for a heavily discounted price or donate to the homeless or underprivileged communities. This is the perfect example of a brand creating a sustainable returns policy that gives back to the local area.
Focus on the product
Another way to produce an on-brand policy is by focusing heavily on the products themselves. If your brand is all about high-quality products, customers returning products is likely going to suggest something isn’t quite right.
But, no matter how high quality your product is, there will always be at least some returns to be processed. Your returns policy should show your customers that you are always striving for perfection.
Offering a warranty or replacement guarantee for all products is the best way to keep your brand integrity while also creating a simple-to-navigate returns policy. It not only gives the customer the impression you’re confident in the quality of your product but also adds a little reassurance to their buying decision: They know that if the product is broken or not quite right, they can easily return it.
Improve your product pages
By improving on your current product pages, you can potentially reduce returns further. If you’ve noticed that customers seem to have similar reasons for return, all relating to something not being quite as expected, chances are, your product page is missing something.
Make sure to offer the customer as much information as possible on each product page, as well as information about warranties and the high quality of your product. It’s also worth including impressive images of the product or a 360 video. The more information you can give the customer before they add it to their basket, the less likely they’ll be disappointed with the product they receive.
No-questions-asked returns are great if you’re looking for a consumer-focused policy, but it doesn’t really help you improve your products and services in the future. The smartest businesses will scrap the hassle-free returns option and actually ask customers for feedback and reasons for their return. This will help you identify any persistent issues people are experiencing, as well as determine the best course of action. If the return reason is aesthetic or relates to something that is clearly specified on the product page, you can also request the customer pays for the return shipping so that you do not have to fit the bill.
Focus on the customer
E-Commerce is all about creating a beautiful and easy-to-navigate shopping journey for the customer. It should be seamless, simple, and aesthetically pleasing. If you’ve ever visited a returns policy page or a Terms & Conditions page, you might have found that the page is not as user-friendly or formatted. Chances are, it’s been the last thought.
If your policy pages are difficult to read or understand, customers can quickly be deterred and move their customs elsewhere. Similarly, if the return process itself is cumbersome or long-winded, the customer probably won’t even bother ordering.
Free shipping or longer return windows
For customer-focused policies, brands should offer free shipping on returns as a first step. Sure, this costs your brand more, but the reputation you receive will help provide you with more potential business in the future.
Similarly, at busy times of the year – or say, in a global pandemic – a lot of customer-focused brands offer a longer returns window. In the holiday season, the family might take a while to get presents to their friends or relatives, and as such the returns window becomes smaller and smaller. Extending this will give customers peace of mind that they have plenty of time to return it if something isn’t right.
Customers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to return a faulty item. They don’t want to sit on the phone for hours, contact someone through live chat or wait days for an email response. Instead, provide return labels within the original packaging or offer a return process within their store account that can be printed at home.
You can also offer customers the chance to gain store credit as an alternative to returning the product. Not only does this make the customer feel rewarded, and gives them a chance to treat themself to something else, it also means there’s no processing of returns required at your end.
24/7 Customer support
For those that don’t want a self-service approach, customer support should still be available. Sometimes, a product may seem broken, but actually the customer hasn’t set it up properly or is missing a single step. With customer support, these types of issues can quickly be resolved without the product having to be returned.
Customer service should also be able to help customers find the right product to suit their needs. Staff should be fully equipped with all the information and knowledge about each product so they can provide customers with personalized support whenever they need it.
How ReturnGO can help
ReturnGO’s self-service platform can help create an on-brand returns policy, no matter what style you’re looking for:
Sustainability: Our system can offer customers store credits when they choose to donate the item. This is perfect for items that cannot be resold but still function well.
Product focused: ReturnGO uses AI technology to ask the customer a series of questions to understand their reason for return. The customer will then be provided with several options that are best suited to their reason. All of this data is collated and can be used to improve your services or products.
Customer-focused: ReturnGO is a self-service tool that works alongside your standard returns policy. It’s perfect for those that want a hassle-free return process that doesn’t require them to speak to anyone.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you create an on-brand policy that works for everyone.