International sales – newbie or seasoned pro?
While online retailers have just weathered the holiday rush, surviving until Christmas is only half the battle, with the New Year bringing a rush of returns.
Efforts will of course have been made to ensure every customer is happy with their purchase, but it’s inevitable that online sellers are still going to deal with a flood of returns throughout January, and returns can eat into already slim profit margins.
So what’s the best way of keeping customers happy and minimising the impact of returns on your bottom line?
Make returns as stress free as possible
Facilitating the easy return of items should be the number one priority for any retailer after Christmas, so making sure the returns section is featured prominently on your site is vital.
If you’re able to absorb the costs, offering free returns is also something you should consider.
While this may seem counter intuitive when seeking to minimise the financial impact of returns on your business, evidence suggests that covering the cost of returns is crucial to retaining the loyalty of customers.
As it generally costs around five times more to attract a new customer than to handle a return, there are financial benefits to offering free returns and retaining existing customers.
On top of this online retailers should try to minimise the cross-examination of customers that can often accompany a return.
It’s important to learn why an individual is returning a product, but don’t bombard them with a hundred-and-one questions about their reasoning. This may scare customers off from making a return in the future, potentially leading them to shop elsewhere.
Attempt to convert returns into exchanges
The best way for online retailers to protect their revenue against the post-Christmas deluge of returns is by attempting to convert as many returns as possible into product exchanges.
The ill-fitting sweater is a staple of Christmas gift giving, but some retailers are not always clear on their policy regarding product exchanges, or even worse, make it more complicated than straight up returning an item.
To help with this retailers should make their exchange programme clear and concise, ideally including it as an option when making a return and pointing customers towards similar products that they may be interested in swapping the item for.
Product exchanges are also an ideal way to deal with the issue those unhappy gift recipients, who may not have a receipt or proof of purchase.
By offering to exchange the item you can garner the goodwill and potential future patronage from a customer, whilst also protecting yourself from fraudulent returns.
Ensure the customer service team is well prepared
Making sure your staff are well prepared for the post-Christmas rush of returns is vital if your ecommerce business is to emerge on the other side with your customers happy and your reputation still intact.
To achieve this your staff will need to be trained in how best to handle returns and be well versed in your business’ return policy.
Some of the things that should be covered include:
Return period length
Handling damaged returns
By ensuring your team are aware of what is expected of them and training them appropriately, you can help provide your customers with a good returns experience and hopefully retain any customers who feel the need to return a product.
Managing refunds to international customers
Generally online sellers with international customers will make sure to leave a portion of sales profits in their international accounts to help cover the inevitable refunds and the cost of shipping returns.
However If the volume of returns outpaces expectations, this can leave your international account short and require you to transfer additional funds.
If this is done through your bank you could lose out due to bank charges and uncompetitive exchange rates.
However, using a reputable currency provider to manage your currency exchange can help you avoid these extra fees and secure a better exchange rate, reducing the cost implications of dealing with international returns.
Good luck with tackling your post-Christmas returns, and if you want to get ahead of the game for Christmas 2019, check out our top festive tips for ecommerce businesses.
If you wish to discuss your transfer options, get in contact with one of Currencies Direct’s friendly currency experts at +44 20 7847 9400.