How to make your return policy the most profitable operation of 2021

In 2018, 45% of French consumers returned a product they purchased online, at least once. Managing returns can be a major asset of your e-commerce. Improved customer experience, brand image, and increased sales are the positive consequences of an effective return policy.

Julie Ribeiro
Created
February 8, 2021
Modified
April 8, 2021

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It is often imagined that the logistics stop when the package is delivered. But returns are just as important as the rest of the logistics process. From the creation of your return policy to the outsourcing of your logistics and the choice of packaging, there are many aspects on which you can stand out!

We will see in this article how returns can be both a gas pedal of your sales but also an element of unstoppable loyalty. 

Return policy: How to use it well? 

1. Create your return policy:


The return policy is made up of all the elements related to the return of packages: 

  • The legal return time limits 
  • Repayment terms 
  • The return procedure
  • The cost of returns ... 

It is important that you put yourself in your client's shoes to answer any questions they may have. In addition to saving your support team time, this strategy will reduce your customer's frustration and improve their logistics experience

For example, you can formulate it as an FAQ: 

FAQ example

Your return policy will not only improve the customer experience by avoiding surprises such as a paid return but will also reassure your customers about return times, for example. 

2. The return policy in accordance with your convictions: 


All the decisions and policies of your e-commerce have an impact on your brand image. Returns can be a great tool to anchor your values. 

For example, let's imagine that you are an e-merchant selling eco-responsible clothing, Made in France. Adapting returns management to your social and environmental commitments will improve your brand image, such as: 

  • Eco-responsible and/or reusable packaging
  • A dissuasive return policy
  • A return rate accordingly: free of charge, free of charge under certain conditions, subject to a fee.

Creating a policy to your image in addition to improving your brand image with your customers and prospects will be a foolproof commercial asset. 

Loom' return politics example

You can communicate your commitment directly on your website, for example. Loom, a brand of eco-responsible clothing, commits to both a dissuasive policy and packaging as environmentally friendly as possible, which is highlighted on its e-shop through an article and photos: 

Loom packaging example

The return policy is a real asset to build customer loyalty and acquire new customers, it is up to you to create it in the most attractive way but also to make it as accessible as possible: at the time of checkout, on the product pages, in the footer of your website ...

The return experience: 

Let's take our example again. If your customer has ordered, received, and tried on his linen pants and realizes that they are too small, how will he return them? 

The process: 


You will have to explain to your customer what steps to take to return his product. Your goal: to reassure and retain your customer! 

How do you do it? By making his return experience as easy and quick as possible! 

A simple way to accompany your customer is to create several "guides": 

1. The first one is to create a specific page that details all the steps (with the return time): 

  • Login to your customer area with your order number. 
  • Generate your return slip on the site by selecting the returned products.  
  • Print the voucher to include it in your package 
  • Drop off your package at the post office 

This page can be included in your follow-up emails and should be highly visible on your site. 

2. Include a DIY ("Do it yourself") of the return process in your package. This is a guide that summarizes all the steps for a successful return! 

The packaging:  

72% of French people are more and more interested in environmental issues.  

Why not improve your brand image to boost your sales by carefully choosing the packaging of your packages? 

There are different solutions for a more environmentally friendly package: 

  • The choice of materials

Choose recycled and/or recyclable materials: cardboard, kraft tape, Kraft to protect your products ... 

  • The choice of your shipping packaging

Send your orders in packages that can be reused for returns. In addition to boosting your sales through your commitment to the environment, this choice will improve your customers' experience

Let's take our example. Your customer who ordered a pair of pants that are too small will want to return the product. If you have opted for the classic packaging, your customer will have to tinker with the package to return the product, which can be frustrating, time-consuming, or even costly (if he has to buy a new box because he has opened his own box incorrectly).  

  • The ecological bet

The next step is to create a partnership with solutions that innovate in terms of ecological packaging. There are brands like Hipli that have designed a package that can be reused more than 100 times. It also allows your customers to return their products. 

Thanks to this partnership, you will be memorable for your customers!

 All these solutions, in addition to being environmentally friendly, have a commercial purpose: to create a craze for your brand! You will retain your existing customers and convince new ones. 

What if you outsource your returns? 

 The trend of e-shoppers: 


One of the most popular trends today is the home fitting of clothes ordered online, especially with the closing of stores due to the pandemic. 

Today, according to Metapack, about 41% of e-shoppers don't hesitate to order several pieces knowing that they will return a good part of them. While this is a very environmentally unfriendly practice, you still need to manage these growing returns. 

In order not to be overwhelmed by this practice within your e-shop, at Biblue, we advise you to:  

  • Limit!: try to delay this behavior by creating conditional returns (for example, your customer has the possibility to send back an item for free, but the second one has to be paid for). 
  • Outsource! 

Outsource to a logistics solution:

As seen previously, returns can be a fabulous way to boost your sales, but it is a very time-consuming part of logistics. It is possible to outsource only returns, as with Shoprunback. But you can also turn to a logistician who will take care of your entire logistics process, like Bigblue. 

What would be the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing to a logistician? 

The advantages: 

  • Saving time and money: returns management can be time-consuming: product reception, quality control, restocking, and potential return of a new product. Your logistician will take care of all these steps, and your team will be able to concentrate on other tasks with higher added value to grow your business: the creation of new products, dissemination of brand image, development of partnerships...
  • Benefit from expertise: You will benefit from the expertise of a logistician who works with renowned brands and who will be able to advise you throughout your development to boost your business.

The disadvantages:

  • Loss of autonomy: You are afraid of being subjected to the process of your logistician. 
  • Lack of transparency: you won't know how returns will be managed: when you receive the return, when you send back the product, etc..

How to minimize these inconveniences: 

  • The loss of autonomy: In reality, your logistician will adapt to the specifications that you are going to transmit to him. Detailing all the steps of the returns will allow you to delegate this task while keeping some control. 
  • Lack of transparency: If you choose a logistician who has a platform connected to your CMS, he will always give you access to your orders, stocks, and returns. On the Bigblue platform, you can track your customers' returns in real-time, for example. 

In short ...

Returns management, an underestimated step in logistics, can become your ally in acquisition and retention. Customer experience and brand image will be at the heart of your strategy to convince your potential customers. 

An effective returns policy, well-chosen packaging, and the expertise of a logistician are the different elements you can work on at your scale to boost your sales in 2021.

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