If there are two words that give a feeling of nightmare and a mild panic attack to most e-commerce entrepreneurs, they would be refunds and returns. Especially if you are a new business, these two words sound like a death sentence. Although it is definitely rather unpleasant to deal with both refunds and returns we hope that after reading this article you might see how you can actually turn them into a possible advantage, why return policy is a must and how to write it in a way that protects both you and the customer.
Before we explore this topic more thoroughly a general rule of thumb would be to double-check if it is more affordable for you to let the customer keep the product and you just send the new one.
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The truth is that some products are definitely not worth returning to your dropshipping supplier. If the product costs a few dollars, for example, it is much more convenient and cheaper for you to send a replacement product to your customer than to pay for the return shipping costs.
An additional benefit is that your customer might really appreciate this small gesture and might order something from you again in the future. This is vital for your business and enables establishing long-lasting relationships with your customers, as well as building trust.
If you look at the infographic below, you will see the top reasons for returning products. Let’s start with the 35% group. One of the most common reasons is that a product received doesn’t match the description on your website.
There are various examples for this, from the wrong color shade to the wrong dimensions of a product. There could be only two culprits: either you or your supplier. The bottom line is that it isn’t your customer’s fault and you should definitely take this into account. A useful tip is to always double-check your supplier’s data and make sure you do your part of the job and properly copy the product data.
Considering that clothes are ordered more than other items, it isn’t surprising that the returning rates for clothes are 40%. Although usually, the mistake is on the customer’s end, sometimes that isn’t the case. Your ordering page should have a sizing guide. In addition, you need to pay attention to different sizing in different parts of the world.
A general rule is the same if it is financially viable for you, accept to do the return regardless of your supplier’s policy. It might come as a surprise but the reason for this is quite simple. Your customer would love this and this type of service will guarantee an army of loyal customers.
In case this happens don’t forget to ask your customer to send a picture or a video of a damaged/defective product. You need to make sure they tell the truth.
The following step would be to write to a supplier and ask for a replacement to a customer or a refund to you.
Try stepping into your customer’s shoes. Think of all the times when you ordered something online and waited for it to arrive. When we order something we expect it to arrive on time or at least around the promised arrival day. Thus it makes it quite logical that your customer’s impatience would grow as days turn into additional weeks. Your customer would start thinking that they will never receive the product. And they would turn to you. You are their only link to the product they ordered.
The first step for you, prior to any online ordering, is to check your supplier’s delivery guarantee. Most suppliers offer a 60-day or less delivery guarantee. Bear in mind to always allow yourself a few extra days in case of some shipping delays, etc. What we mean is that if your supplier provides a 60-day return window, it would be wise that you provide your customers with 50-55 days. This gives you extra 5-10 days in case something unexpected pops up.
If you stick with us for a few more lines, we’ll talk more about the importance of a tracking number.
Enough with the theory, let’s see how to deal with refunds and returns in your very own dropshipping store.
The simplest answer would be to try to avoid refunding, or in other words, try to come up with solutions that would be beneficial both for you and your customer and that exclude refund ( unless it is really necessary).
Remember sending a replacement product we mentioned at the very beginning of our article? That is one option.
If your customer still demands a refund, then offer them a refund. In your line of work, you will encounter customers that you actually would be glad to ‘get rid of’ ( pardon my French). There are those never satisfied customers that do nothing but complain.
On the other hand, don’t look at refunds as something negative. We’ve already said that it can be turned into an advantage. Perhaps more than refund itself, your customer wants to see that you tried and did your utmost best to help them and find a solution. This would make your customers coming back to you because they would feel safe. They would know that you are reliable and they can trust you.
You can even boost this even more by offering special coupons and vouchers, or even a free product. It could be something that doesn’t cost you much but for your customer, it would be valuable. We all love free things.
Let’s face it: there is no way that you won’t encounter this problem in your dropshipping business. Really, no way. The same thing we said about refunds could be applied here. Turn it to your advantage and learn from any mistake you might make. The whole process of returning follows a few steps:
- Your customer would contact you for a return
- You would need to get an RMA number (return merchandise authorization) from your supplier
- Then the customer returns the product to the supplier with RMAnuber included
- The supplier gives you a refund and finally,
- You give a refund to your customer
Allowing customers a return option is a must. According to an interesting Invespcro’s infographics, 92% of consumers will buy again if the product return process is hassle-free whereas 79% of consumers want free return shipping. This led to 49% of retailers offering free return shipping.
At the end of the day, you want your customers to have a pleasant shopping experience. So even if your customer returns or wants to return a product it isn’t necessarily bad. As long as you still turn it into a smooth experience for them, they would come back. This is why you need to make sure you have a great customer support service that would help your customers during the process. You need to have answers to their questions, even educate them on how to track their order. The more time and patience you invest, the more your customers would become independent and more knowledgeable of what to expect. Moreover, it might even lower your return later. People don’t like being in the dark or feel tricked. Once they realize what’s behind their product being late or similar issues, they would also be more understanding.
By now, you should get a clearer picture of why it is so essential to enable your customers to ask for refunds and returns. A return policy page plays a vital part. It might sound contradictory but it might actually boost your sales.
But what is a return policy page? Usually, it is a document stating policies regarding returns and refunds ( number of days to return a product, the ways to receive a refund, etc.)
62% of shoppers would shop more online if they can return a product. Some food for thought, right? But in order to do that, they also want a smooth and easy experience when dealing with returns.
Big platforms like Shopify guide you through the process of creating a return policy page. It takes you step-by-step and it offers a free refund and returns policy generator just to help you get started.
You don’t have to worry that you need to be a Pulitzer writer to make a killing policy page. Keep it simple, and clearly state the most important parts:
- The reason why a customer asks for a refund/return
- The number of days when they can ask for a refund
- The type of refund
- The way you’ll pay them back
- Which address should a customer send the product back to
- How long will they need to wait to receive their money back or a new product
And always, always make sure that your policy is visible and easy to find. If your customers need to spend hours on your website trying to figure out where you ‘hide’ your policy, they would be gone, most likely for good. An additional tip might be to use visualization, a step-by-step guide to help your customers more during the process.
There are so many tips and hacks that are useful when we talk about returns and refunds in dropshipping that it is almost impossible to cover them all. Still, we hope that this article sheds more light on why it is so important to have these options. Be kind, patient, understanding, reach out to help your customers, build a loyal relationship. Make their shopping experience a blast so that they would always return to you.
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