Returns - Common Issues For international Returns For E-commerce Businesses

24 October, 2018

Returns are a part of life for an E-commerce business – slick, swift returns help to build positive relationships with customers who value great customer service. However, returns challenges can be significantly magnified when you start selling cross border.

International e-commerce business opportunities

For many E-commerce enterprises, cross border sales represent the best way to grow the business. However, taking this step without being able to accommodate international returns can be very problematic. Language barriers, different cultural attitudes and a range of local consumer laws and regulations can influence how you manage international returns – and an awareness of these will be crucial. You’ll also need to ensure that you don’t make the most common mistakes when it comes to international returns for E-commerce businesses.

1. A returns policy that is far too complicated

67% of customers will find, and read, the returns policy before going on to make a purchase. If they aren’t able to understand what they read then they may not purchase at all. It’s often tempting to opt for a returns policy that is full of legal language and covers every single possible situation. However, this will frustrate and confuse your customers and put them off your brand. Your returns policy should be:

  • Easy to find – don’t hide it
  • Clear – your returns policy should provide key information, including how long customers have to make a return after purchase
  • Simple and short – what does the customer need to do and what are your obligations to them?
  • Easy to read – legalese will make you sound confusing, not clever
  • Designed to be useful – every website needs to have a returns policy but avoid a copy and paste template. Tailor your returns policy to your website and design it like a checklist so that it’s actually useful.

The issue of free returns. Whether you charge for returns is going to be a crucial decision and could have an impact on the popularity of your brand with customers. Increasingly, consumers expect returns to be free but most will still be happy to cover a charge that is minimal if free is not affordable for you. Free international returns are only problematic for a business if they result in costs that are too high to absorb. With the average international return rate around 30%, this is an essential calculation to make when reviewing or designing your returns policy.

2. A lack of repayment options

Consumers value choice when it comes to customer service and that includes how they get their money back from a return. Offering a single option of store credit is the fastest way to lose customers, as it gives people no choice at all. Although giving a full return on a debit or credit card is the least profitable option for a retailer, it means that the consumer gets the cash back. Ideally, you’ll be able to offer your customers a combination of repayment choices, including the option of store credit for a future spend or a full cash refund. If you want to incentivise customers to choose one or the other then it can be useful to make your preferred choice a free return.

3. Outsource your returns service

Outsourcing your international returns can save you time and money, as well as improving brand service perception with customers. Asendia offers a range of returns services that are designed to give both you, and your customer, more control. We have returns centres in key international markets and are able to pass on to our customers the financial benefits of our negotiating power to help keep costs down. Our cross border returns services include:

  • Local returns centres for Domestic returns offer
  • Consolidation in regional centres for International returns
  • Manage returns with Asendia Shipping
  • Tracking options with Asendia Tracking
  • Content checking on demand

A returns strategy is essential for any business looking to sell cross border. Asendia’s returns services are designed to support your business, whatever its return volumes, in an efficient and cost effective way.

Sources: Linnworks/Invesp

Optimising your e-commerce business for international returns

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