Ecommerce business is reaching new heights in India today. With increasing internet penetration, more and more people are becoming tech savvy these days and as a result, ecommerce websites are gaining popularity. Despite their apprehensions, many people rely upon online shopping today. Some say it is for the increased variety and others say it is the ease and convenience.

Lucrative offers and discounts offered by such sites have never failed to lure customers in the past. But today, studies suggest there are other factors that pull customers to particular websites. A few factors that have proven to increase customer traffic in recent times are as follows:

  • Detailed product description
  • Product pictures
  • Free shipping
  • Lenient returns policy

The presence of the above factors seems to be attracting more and more traffic to ecommerce websites today.

 Why is a returns policy important?

One of the main apprehensions people have towards online shopping is the physical absence of the product. As traditional retail shopping offers testing of the products before purchase, people are apprehensive about buying products online. However, a lenient returns policy can solve this problem to a large extent. If people can return the products easily in the event of dissatisfaction, they can shop online more freely. The returns policy offers a blanket of protection to the customers.

Impact of a returns policy on ecommerce sites

According to a study released by comScore, customers pay more attention to return policy as against free shipping contrary to popular belief. Free shipping might be important for customers but the inability to exchange or return their products is a major discouraging factor and often affects peoples shopping behavior. Some studies even suggest that customers are demanding free returns policy from ecommerce sites. What does that imply? If your customers are able to easily return their products without much hustle or cost, they will definitely shop more from your website;

This means that a free or lenient returns policy will not only generate more traffic, but also increase sales through direct traffic as well as referrals.

Obstacles:

You might say it is easier said than done. Without a doubt, it is implied that a free returns policy will incur costs and cause a major increase in the budget. Some items such as clothes, shoes and accessories have a returns rate as high as 30%. While other items such as electronics, equipment, etc has a much lower returns rate that is closer to 5-10%. Given such obstacles, the possibility of implementing a free returns policy seems dull.

How will you implement a free returns policy?

Despite the above mentioned obstacles, there is no need to lose hope just yet. There are a few ways you can make sure the returns policy does not hamper your profits but on the contrary, increase your sales and with sales, profits. The simple logic is in order to implement a lenient returns policy; you need to reduce the returns rate in the first place. Here are a few steps you may take that will reduce your returns rate:

  • First of all, analyze the returns that took place last year. And carefully derive the main reasons behind those returns. This should give you a fair idea of what is causing high returns.
  • It is important that people know exactly what they are buying as it will significantly reduce the returns. Therefore start with high quality pictures and detailed product descriptions. And if you can afford it, video descriptions of products are known to make higher sales.
  • Product reviews are a great way of increasing sales and decreasing returns. Reviews by customers as well as industry experts give customers an idea of the product quality and functionality.
  • If your site has a large variety of products, it might not be possible for you to offer fee returns on all products. Therefore clearly mention the products that come with a free return policy.
  • Also make sure you have preset guidelines that are clearly defines when it comes to return policies. How many days does the customer have to return the item? Is it applicable on all products?
  • And lastly, do not forget to heavily promote the free return policy scheme as it is sure to turn a few eyeballs.