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After a week's worth of waiting and a hole in your bank account - your brand-spanking-new pair of shoes arrive at your doorstep. Unfortunately, due to an order mismatch - you get the wrong size. After an hour's worth of tedious form-filling and checking boxes, you wonder if the headache of filing for a return is even worth it.

Over the past year, more than eighty percent of online shoppers reported that they wouldn't think twice to shun your store if you have an unpleasant returns experience. This demonstrates the immense and often underestimated influence that your store's returns experience has on customer acquisition.


These numbers come as no surprise; with customers having done more shopping online since the pandemic, increased reliance on returns means clients' patience is fading when it comes to clunky or expensive returns processes.


However, if you do manage to get returns right, your store has an inherent competitive advantage. Unsurprisingly, if your store offers free returns, new and old clients alike will stick with you over a rival that will charge them. 


As reliance on returns grows, retailers need to ensure they're offering a smooth, seamless process that meets the needs of today's customers 



The hidden cost of free returns

Free returns on e-commerce are as vital as free shipping on the initial order. But free returns can cost your store. Nearly a third of shoppers buy more items to return some of them. To combat this, stores have hidden costs to make up for free returns: According to a recent study, 20% of online retailers have raised prices to make up for the expense of e-commerce returns.

Returns are part of your expenses. Your pricing should cover your overhead as well as your cost of goods sold. An honest assessment of the cost of your e-commerce returns will help you calculate whether it's needed to adjust your prices.


Here are the best return-and-refunds practices you should implement in your store:


 1. Copy your return policy from the experts

Through tedious trail and error, you can try different different return policies to see what works best - But why reinvent the wheel? Why not borrow some experience from the experts – other e-commerce retailers? You'll have to edit a few things once you put your e-commerce returns policy into practice, but you get a head start when you develop on the expertise of others. 

 2. Re-engage customers

A return is not the end of the line with a customer. The fact that they ordered a product in the first place means they were interested in your business, so there's a big opportunity to lure them back. So after completing a return, make sure to re-engage with your customer to retain the relationship.

 3. Use returns as an excuse to show clients how much you care

You might find returns frustrating and demoralizing, but your customers should see the exact opposite. Showing empathy whilst a customer expresses disappointment can turn their anger into appreciation. You should thank your customers for doing their bit in completing the returns process, resulting in future sales and loyal customers.


As you can see, there’s a ton to think about when it comes to eCommerce returns. However, the first step to perfecting your returns system is having a proper understanding of what causes delays in the process, analyzing this, and finding a solution. Hopefully, this article serves as a starting point for your journey to optimize your shipping experience.