On-demand return portals are the best customer experience.

Customers have come to expect an on-demand experience in everything they do. Is your return process meeting their expectations?

on-demand return portal hero

These days, everything is available on-demand - from entertainment to groceries to transportation. But many ecommerce brands are hesitant to take the same approach when it comes to their returns process.

While we understand the appeal of creating a “high touch” return process, we’re here to show you how an on-demand returns portal can actually lead to a better customer experience.

Understanding the customer’s perspective when it comes to returns

Imagine the experience of the modern consumer when it comes to entertainment. Thanks to platforms like Netflix and Hulu, people can now watch their favorite shows whenever they want, wherever they want. People are now accustomed to this on-demand approach and have similar expectations for other aspects of their lives - including their online shopping experience.

That’s why ecommerce brands strive to make their browsing, shopping, and shipping experience as seamless and fast as possible. Why don’t we apply the same mindset to the returns process?

Imagine a customer had to reach out to someone on the team to make a purchase.  They would have to wait for a response, get on the phone to make sure they’re buying the right product, and go through multiple back-and-forths. Sounds ridiculous, right? 

We get it. You don’t want to make the returns process too easy - after all, nobody wants to lose customers or revenue. But consider the fact that 60% of returns on stores powered by Shopify are because it’s the wrong size or style. This means that more than half of your returns have the potential to turn into an exchange...but only if your returns process is easy. Make it too hard, and your customers will turn to a refund instead.

Example of a branded return portal

Our point: it’s all about creating the right amount of friction for your customers, which is why we recommend an on-demand returns portal (like the one above) over a manual process. At the end of the day, requesting a return is still harder than just keeping the product. But an on-demand process makes it as easy as possible for the customers who may want an exchange or store credit.

There are many other benefits with this approach:

1. You save your customers and your team time

We’re all for brands creating top-notch, personalized experiences for their customers. But it’s important to offer them where they matter. And the truth is that customers don't want or need to talk to a customer support representative for something as simple as an exchange or refund. There’s nothing to be gained from talking to a support person with such a straightforward transaction - it only adds unnecessary friction to the experience.

Instead, the best thing to do is to give your customers the freedom to manage their own returns. This saves time not only for your customers but also for your support representatives. This, in turn, allows your team to focus their resources on helping customers with more pressing problems like sizing issues. For example, Knix is an intimates brand that utilizes its customer support team in valuable ways. Since sizing is a challenge in this industry, they offer virtual fittings to help customers figure out the most accurate bra size for them.

knix consultation example

Again, we want to clarify that we’re not against providing high-touch experiences - we just believe they are better places for them than just facilitating a return.

2. The customer’s emotions are addressed

When a customer receives a product that's wrong for them (whether it’s because of size, fit, color, or some other reason), they feel vulnerable. The returns process you create for them has the power to either turn that vulnerability into a resolution or turn it to frustration. Below are the most common emotions experienced by customers, and how an on-demand returns portal can help:

  • Frustration. The most prominent emotion customers experience during the returns process is frustration. When they receive the wrong product, all they really want is a resolution - and fast. So you can imagine how forcing them to go through a manual returns process will only worsen that frustration. Instead, give customers the freedom to resolve their frustrations without interference and on their own timeline. 

  • Confusion. Your customers might find themselves confused when they want to return a product. They’re likely asking themselves: now what? Where do I go to start the return process? And how? A clear return policy, paired with an intuitive returns process, can mitigate this confusion and remove any ambiguities that might negatively impact their experience. 

  • Lost. It’s also common for customers to feel lost during the returns process. They may be unclear on when they’ll receive their refund or their new product - issues that won’t be clarified with a manual returns process. Instead, this is something that can be easily remedied with automated email updates that alert your customers when there’s progress made.

3. Repeat purchases become much more likely

When a customer has an easy, positive returns experience with your brand, they’re more likely to come back for another purchase. In fact, 92% of consumers have stated that they’ll buy something again if returns are easy. This means that an on-demand returns portal can actually help you establish increased revenue and LTV. 

92% of consumers sate that they will buy again if the returns process is easy.

Compare that with an experience where customers have to exchange multiple emails with a support person, wait on a shipping label, and engage in frustrating back-and-forth exchanges. They might not want to deal with the hassle again and therefore reduce your chances of having that customer become a repeat purchaser.

Give your customers what they want: an on-demand returns experience

Today’s customer has high expectations - they want every experience your brand provides to be easy, seamless, and fast. This applies to everything from your shipping rates to your returns process.

Instead of assuming your customers always want to talk to a representative, consider how an on-demand returns portal can improve their experience and create more time and space for your support team to be helpful to them in other ways. If you’re interested in automating your returns process while still keeping an amazing customer experience, Loop is here to help.