Why Offering Free Return Shipping Is a Good Idea


All the major e-tailers are doing it! Why, you may ask? It’s basic psychology. Free returns make an online transaction completely risk-free to the customer. They can buy something, determine if they like or do not like it, and send it back without a second thought if needed. It’s a competitive play, and it has even allowed slightly higher priced items to remain higher priced while maintaining sales and high customer satisfaction rates simply for the offer of free return shipping. A recent survey from Deloitte found that 55% of customers are influenced by easy returns and 72% find free shipping important when making a purchasing decision. Some companies have even found that making their “Free Returns” policy more visible to consumers has increased their profits by over 350%. This should not come as too much of a shock, all things considered. Take the customer perspective into consideration for a moment. To the average consumer, free return shipping means:

Peace of Mind

Return shipping costs can be a huge sales deterrent. In some cases, they can be 50% of the cost of an item or more – that’s a huge incentive to drive to the nearest store to get what you need instead of placing an online order. By offering free return shipping, you’re giving customers peace of mind which is what increases conversion rates and drives brand loyalty.

If you decide to give your customers that peace of mind, it is in your best interest to make it as simple a process as possible. This means setting up a system and process that allows them to access prepaid labels for any major carrier in seconds. By organizing your shipping process internally, you make it easier for your customers – it’s a win-win.

Happier Customers

Offering free return shipping makes customers happy, and happy customers are the key to a successful business. They not only become repeat customers but also spread the word about their great experience and cost your company less than always acquiring new customers. Happier customers also tend to treat their favorite companies better than the competition, so returned items may be resold and will not mean the end of that customer relationship. When offering free return shipping, consider how to make it affordable for your company. This may mean selecting ground shipping options with longer return windows or using packaging that can be repurposed for a return. Address verification and preset packaging will also help you avoid costly re-shipments, get customers their replacement items or labels quickly and without error.

Great Promotional Tool

Looking for another way to beat your competition? Free return shipping is a great promotional tool whether it is something your company offers year-round or only at certain times of year (i.e. holidays). It can be used to drive brand awareness and customer engagement or in conjunction with other deals to really sweeten the pot. Just the word “free” can take a promotion viral and compel someone to take action on a purchase. Want to keep new customers coming back for more? Automate tracking on free returns to make the process even more painless. Every time a step in the process is completed, the customer will receive an email notification that their package is shipped, out for delivery, delivered, or successfully scanned back at the warehouse. It doesn’t get much easier than that! If done correctly, free returns are a good idea. It is a smart business decision that keeps you competitive, improves conversion rates, and keeps customers happy and loyal. Make it even easier by taking advantage of affordable shipping tools that keep costs low and make the process as simple and straightforward as possible for you and your customers.

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