Use Exchanges and Refunds to Your Advantage

The online marketplace is becoming highly glutted and increasingly competitive. So, what makes an e-business more attractive?

The answer is obviously providing a better customer experience. But, with technology helping to level the playing field, how can you beat the customer experience that a competitor provides?

A February 2012 survey conducted by UPS and comScore of more than 3,100 US shoppers reveals that ease of product returns and exchanges as the single most important factor in online customer experience. A staggering 63 percent of online shoppers look into the return policies offered by the e-tailer before making purchases, and 42 percent of all shoppers want e-tailers in general to improve ease of returns and exchanges.

With marketers going overboard to strike up a conversation with the customer in order to drive more sales, firms should use exchange and return policies as a good opportunity to engage with customers. For instance, an email or a live chat asking for feedback before making a refund or exchange may just clear misconceptions or misunderstandings and net a customer for life.

There would inevitably be a few customers who will take advantage of generous return policies. But, the benefits of a liberal return and exchange policy far outweigh the inconvenience caused by such customers. Unlike brick and mortar shops where what you see is what you get, online shoppers rely on the product description and image when making purchases. While e-tailers should also focus on building great product pages to minimize disappointments, the refund process should be used to increase customer experience.

What is your current process for refunds and exchange? Are you happy with the way your customer service team manages the process?

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