No matter what you sell in your online store, you need to be able to stand by your product. One of the best ways to show your commitment to quality is to offer free shipping for items and free returns when something is not to a customer’s liking. This shows the customer a high level of commitment and a confidence that you believe in the quality of what you sell. In turn, your customers will come to trust you and rely on the service you offer them.
Why Offer Free Returns?
Providing free returns helps to ease any anxiety a customer might feel. It proves several things before a purchase even gets made. First, it shows that you have faith that your customer will be satisfied with the sale. After all, why would you offer to take a loss on the return if you expected that the customer would be unhappy? Second, it alleviates any fears the customer might have of spending money that doesn’t go to good use. This way, if the purchase doesn’t go as expected or the product is damaged in some way, the customer loses nothing but a little bit of their time. Finally, the lenient return policy gives customers a reason to rely on you and put trust in you, which helps to build a better relationship with them.
Why Offer Free Shipping?
Free shipping provides customers with a more comfortable shopping experience. If a customer knows that you provide free shipping, then that means they can count the price listed on a product as the price they will pay by the end of the sale. This makes the customer feel like they aren’t getting ambushed by hidden charges. While charging for shipping might seem perfectly reasonable on your end, most customers don’t differentiate between the seller and the shipper. This means that they often see shipping charges as an extra fee the store uses to get money out of them. While this isn’t a correct view, it’s far easier to pay for the shipping yourself and make sure there is no confusion on the matter.
Effect on Abandoned Carts
Return policies and shipping rates can have a notable effect on the rate of abandoned shopping carts your store sees. If you see a lot of abandoned carts at the checkout phase of a purchase, there’s a good chance that one of these two items is to blame. Customers who are about to pay for a product often experience last minute doubts as to whether the item they purchase will really be useful to them. If they worry about damages, defects, or simply a change in heart, a free return policy helps them realize that they can always return the item without hassle. Similarly, shipping charges can sometimes put a product above what a customer budgeted for, causing them to leave the store once they see the final cost.
While the main purpose of free returns and free shipping is to make things easier for the customer, these policies also reflect an upsell opportunity for you. Fragile items, especially antiques and electronics, can be returned for free under this model, but only within a certain window. Customers who are worried about damages might wish to purchase a protection plan that extends the time in which they can get a replacement beyond the typical return policy window. Free shipping options usually represent the least expensive or most common shipping choice, meaning a customer might not get an item for a week or more. While this is fine for customers on a budget, many will pay a shipping cost to get the product faster. This represents a chance to give the customer the standard service for free while allowing room for an upgrade.
Making the Costs Work for You
The problem that online stores face with free returns and shipping is that they essentially offer every product at a discount. While these policies do mean that you have to pay some extra costs, you can mitigate that slightly through good marketing. If you incentivize bulk orders, for example, you can get more money on a sale while paying less for shipping. You can also focus on upsells and cross sells, encouraging customers to buy products connected with their purchase and bringing you more of a profit in return. Simple marketing methods can make free returns and free shipping work for everybody involved.
A generous return and shipping policy can work for you in many different ways. It decreases the number of lost sales and increases the amount of trust in your store. By offering these perks, customers will come to rely on you as a trusted online shopping source.