One of the biggest concerns consumers have about buying auto parts online: getting stuck with an unwanted part. This is because most online shoppers have been burned by a tricky online return policy, causing most online buyers to worry about return policy verbiage.
UPS has compiled some interesting data about ecommerce return policies that’s worth repeating here:
- 50% of consumers believe online return policies are too complex and/or difficult
- Nearly 90% of consumers will read an online retailer’s return policy, most of them before deciding to purchase a part
- One in 10 consumers will compare retailers on the basis of their return policies (think about that for a moment – somewhere someone is comparing your return policy to a competitor’s policy right now)
Summing up, return policies are important. Here are some things you can do to make your return policy better.
Return Policy Best Practices
Spell out your policy in simple terms. Explain what responsibilities the customer has if they order the wrong part, how long they have to return it, what they can’t return, and when returns aren’t accepted (installed and damaged parts, etc.). Then, explain how they’re not going to be left out in the cold if your warehouse made an error and shipped the wrong part, and what they need to do to get the right parts.
Make returns as painless as you can. If a consumer has to call you, talk to a specific person, request a return authorization, and then fill out a long form before they can get a partial refund, your process needs work. See if you can simplify or automate the return authorization request. See if you can move the whole process online. Consider getting rid of some of the red tape.
Explain why you have a core policy and restocking fees. Consumers hate paying fees, so it’s a good idea to explain why you’re charging them.
Make it clear that the consumer will never pay for mistakes or bad fortune. If you send the consumer the wrong part (a part different than they ordered), be sure to explain that they (the consumer) are going to get the right part expedited to them just as soon as the wrong part is returned (free of charge). If a part is damaged during shipping, explain that the consumer merely needs to report the damage so they can get a new part ASAP.
Clearly explain time limits. Make sure consumers understand the time limit on damage claims, return requests, etc.
Clearly indicate excluded parts. If you can’t take a specific type of part back, explain that (ideally on the same page as the part description AND in the cart). It doesn’t hurt to list the types of parts you can’t take in return on your policy page either.
Tips and Notes
Make sure your staff has the right attitude. No one in retail enjoys processing returns. A good percentage of people making a return seem like they’re trying to pull a fast one. Another group is rude or angry. Another group is clueless, trying to return a part they actually need because they’re too proud (or foolish) to ask a question.
As a result of all of this nonsense, it’s easy for your staff to get negative about returns. Don’t let them. A poor interaction with a consumer during the return process is a surefire formula for a negative review or mention of your company. Staff should be courteous and polite to purchasers and returners, as they are both equally important from a customer service standpoint.
Finally, it’s important to understand the cost of returns. If your company is losing a lot of money because people are returning parts, odds are good you have a problem with your product or your process.
- If people are returning parts because they ordered the wrong items, consider implementing a “call and verify” policy on orders that meet specific criteria. One of our clients, for example, automatically calls every customer that orders a specific category of parts. It’s a little bit of work, but it prevents a considerable number of returns.
- If people are returning parts because they didn’t meet expectations, put more details and information on your product pages, take better product photos, etc.
- If people are returning parts because of quality, stop selling that class of parts. One retailer we know dropped a specific brand of parts from their catalog because of frequent complaints and returns.