After nearly every major holiday you can always expect long lines of customers returning unwanted gifts. In fact, about 15-16% of products purchased for the holidays will be returned to stores, according to estimates by the National Retail Federation.
But a customer returning one of your products doesn’t have to be a bad thing—it can be the perfect opportunity to get them back in your store and help them find what they really want.
Let’s talk about how you can turn those returns into sales.
Top reasons customers make returns—and how to solve for them
Product returns are nothing new for retail businesses. So what’s bringing customers back to your store to make a return?
The buyer journey is about finding the best customer fit. Ask yourself: What does the customer value? What do they really want? And how do they want it?
You can answer these questions and learn more about your shoppers’ experiences with your company by analyzing the most common reasons for a return.
- Size issues: Ever been given a sweater that didn’t quite fit? Or bought a table that turned out to be much bigger than it looked online? We all have. Size issues are inevitable in the retail business, so you’ll want to make the most of them. Train your team to offer an exchange for the right size instead of a return.
- Failed expectations: When a customer envisions a product that can provide value in a certain way in their life, sometimes it comes up short in reality. It’s your job to find out why. Once you know how the product didn’t measure up, you can direct them to something that will.
- Price competition: If customers buy a product, and later find a different retail store selling a similar product with a better price it's more than likely they'll return your product. When this happens, try including a coupon or special deal with their return so they’ll be interested in coming back to you, rather than your competitor, the next time they shop.
The opportunity in returns
When a customer comes in to return a product, they suddenly turn into a potential customer again. This opportunity offers you the chance to create a new, positive customer interaction, instead of viewing the return as just a transactional logistic process.
These personable interactions can demonstrate your business's commitment to them and resolvement of customer complaints, potentially creating qualified leads for the future. As a business, you have already sold to this customer, even if they did make a return. And now, the marketing and sales team can make marketing efforts to build strong relationships over the lifetime of the customer and build loyal customers.
Returns can become less about the loss of a sale or profit, and more about building trust through creating excellent customer service.
How to turn returns into sales
Now that we’ve covered why a return can actually be a potential sales opportunity, let’s talk about how you can make it happen.
A simple return process
An effortless, pain-free return policy is a powerful motive for prospective customers. Reducing customer pain in any area possible in the buying process will be a green flag for your customers. Find out what your customers’ hesitations are in the sales approach so you can be sure to acknowledge customer feedback when strategizing a return policy.
A return policy with clear instructions will be attractive to customers. If they feel like they can come to your retail store and return the product with nothing left undone, this will grow trust in you and your brand. Overall, customer satisfaction will increase, making them more likely to come back.
Personal engagement with the customer
As part of your product return strategy, personalized communication will be key to showing customers you care. Train your sales reps to learn why the product didn’t work for the customer, and express empathy around the issue., emails, or in-store associates. By doing this, retail sales managers can not understand the reasons behind a return, but foster a genuine relationship with the customer.
Outside of returns, communicating personally with a customer is a part of effective sales opportunity management as well as good customer relationship management. Know your business from the viewpoint of the customer, and communicating personally with them will help you do just that.
How to win exchanges over refunds
Exchanges can benefit your retail business more than a refund and help maintain a positive cash flow—or at least not a total loss. With exchanges, your store doesn't need to go through the logistics and costs of processing a customer's return. Create another sales opportunity and incentivize customers to choose an exchange.
With help from the marketing team and your store associates, you can present discounts, free shipping, and upgrades at reduced costs as incentives to make another potential deal. The key is making these incentivizing exchange options for the customer more appealing than returning the product. These sales strategies will keep your customer engaged with your company.
Collect customer feedback
Retail stores who want to turn product returns into sales prospects, prioritize customer feedback . Taking advantage of feedback will be a crucial part of your business strategy if you're looking to improve your sales process.
Encouraging customers to share why they're returning products—whether in person or through an online survey—will give you insight on the areas of improvement. Asking for feedback and following up on it are two characteristics of a proactive business seeking to enhance their return process.
How Clientbook helps you turn product returns into sales
Advanced software tools are necessary, especially for physical retail stores, to keep track of inventory,purchases, and returns. Clientbook is a CRM built specifically for retailers, providing user-friendly technology that makes modernizing their return process simple and stress-free.
Want your return process to be both personalized and automated? Clientbook can help with both. With it, you can tune into real-time data and personalized communication with your customers and even review a client’s purchase history to see what might get them back in your store. Clientbook turns every transaction into a personal interaction, and every return into an opportunity.
Be an active part in the customer journey and take the extra time to create a strategy to turn product returns into prospective customers. No matter your company size, any retail business owner is capable of creating customer loyalty.
By engaging in personal interactions, creating a simple return process, implementing feedback, and encouraging exchanges, your business will win big with customers. Rather than viewing product returns as having a negative impact on your business, start making it a chance to strengthen and improve a relationship with your customers.
And if you’re ready to see how a retail CRM like Clientbook can help you get there, book a demo today.