This is an excerpt from our latest ebook “Brand-building during a downturn: How merchants grow loyalty in a recession” by Ryder E-commerce by Whiplash partner Loop, the returns and revenue-boosting platform for scaling Shopify brands.
When you’re looking for ways to grow loyalty from your existing shoppers, you’re probably overlooking a very important opportunity for customer retention—and that’s the post-purchase experience, especially during the returns process.
When a shopper decides to make a return, many brands assume that’s the end of the relationship. After all, they didn’t like the product, so why would they shop with you again?
In order to retain more shoppers, it’s critical to shift that mindset.
Many returns take place simply because the product was the wrong size or color, or because the shopper decided they didn’t need it right now.
But they might fall in love with another product from your brand—if you’re able to facilitate an easy and painless exchange opportunity.
Here are our strategies for boosting shopper loyalty by optimizing the returns experience:
To improve customer experience (CX) overall, it’s important to take the time to uncover what’s not working for your shoppers. The returns process is a perfect opportunity to gain new insights that you can use to improve your post-purchase strategy.
For instance, when a customer initiates a return, you could provide them with a questionnaire that asks them why they’re making the return. For example, asking whether the product is too small, too large, a poor fit, poor quality, or any other number of options. You’ll be able to learn a lot about shopper experience from this aggregated data and provide helpful guidance to your shoppers based on what you find out.
Let’s say you learn that one product line tends to run small in size. You could include a recommendation on the product page for customers to size up. If you’re getting multiple reports of another product being poor quality or having defects, you can either work with your manufacturer to improve the product or discontinue the product from your inventory.
Knowing more about what your shoppers are dealing with in the post-purchase stage helps you to better provide what it is they are looking for, meaning you’ll be able to deliver a better and more consistent customer experience that keeps them coming back.
Many shoppers don’t even bother returning products they aren’t happy with. Why? Because it feels like too much of a hassle. While your brand will keep the revenue from that transaction, it means you’ll likely lose that shopper for good—so it’s important to make your returns process as painless as possible.
Offer a generous returns window (we recommend at least 30 days), and use a self-service platform that allows shoppers to initiate returns independently, with options for selecting a printable return label, the opportunity to take the item to a drop-off center for return shipping, or even at-home pick-up.
In many cases, a shopper may want to exchange one item for a direct variant, such as a different size or color. But if they’ve decided they don’t want that item at all, how can you encourage them to choose something else rather than opting for a refund?
Consider offering “bonus credit” that can be applied toward the value of another item. For example, if a shopper returned an $80 pair of shoes and doesn’t want to select a variant, consider offering an additional $10 in bonus credit to sweeten the deal for them to make an exchange.
Rather than requesting their money back, that shopper might opt for a $120 sweater, leaving your brand with an additional $30 in revenue from the upsell after the bonus credit promotion. (Plus, you retain the initial $80 from the sale that would have been lost to a refund.) Encouraging your shoppers to exchange rather than opt for a refund also keeps them active in your sales funnel, ensuring that you’ll be able to continue marketing to them and increasing their overall customer lifetime value.
Building a base of loyal shoppers that you can rely on is far cheaper (and more rewarding) than continually acquiring new shoppers to replace the ones you’ve lost. By creating a great customer experience and implementing a best-in-class returns process that optimizes revenue retention and upsells, you’ll be able to build a profitable, sustainable business—even in a tough economic climate.
Enjoyed this excerpt? Check out the rest of our ebook on how e-commerce brands and retailers can future-proof their success against downturns in the economic landscape: