Building Brand Loyalty by delivering a seamless return experience

Building Brand Loyalty by delivering a seamless return experience

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Ecommerce is a relatively young industry. It started about 15 years ago, and although it has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade, it is still rather juvenile. Dropshipping was popular for the first few years, and there was little competition between brands; therefore, acquisition costs were low, which resulted in ecommerce growth fuelled by acquisition. With this strategy in place, companies invested large quantities in acquiring new customers that would only generate a one-time purchase. This approach became unsustainable in the long run and limited brand growth.

As ecommerce started to grow and evolve, competition started to increase, and higher CAC indicates that brands must look for higher LTV. This transition provoked a change in ecommerce growth from an era based on acquisition to a new one fuelled by customer loyalty and retention. In this new era, the number one growth goal relies on turning first-time buyers into long-term fans with an excellent brand and customer experience.

What is the return process?

We acknowledge the return process as that part of the post-purchase journey that gets activated if the item received doesn’t meet the expected expectations or requirements, and the customer wants to return or exchange it. And while this is true, it’s slowly evolving into something more.

The growth of ecommerce has prompted many changes in the customers’ behaviour. One could say that “buying” doesn’t happen at check-out anymore, but when the customer decides to keep the product after receiving it at home and trying it on, with this, the bedroom has become the new fitting room.

In this article, we’ll dive deeply into the return process, how it has become an essential part of the customer journey as a primary loyalty and retention driver, and how delivering an excellent return experience can boost brand experience and customer loyalty. Let’s get to it!

Manual vs digital return management

A manual return process means that all touch points of the journey need the assistance and supervision of people. With a manual return process, brands need to add pre-printed return labels to all the boxes and need to process refunds manually. On the customer side, there is no tracking number which prompts customers to overflow customer service with calls to understand the status of their return. It’s essentially tech-free, which means that it’s highly time-consuming, ineffective, lacks synchronisation with third-party service providers and isn’t branded to build trust nor keep the customer engaged with the brand.

On the other side, a digital return process is run through a return management platform that automates operations, speeding up the process significantly and boosting effectiveness for the retail team and third-party service providers. It provides a fully digital and branded experience to customers, which builds trust and allows customers to be engaged with the brand at all times. It cuts the hassle of calling customer support to process a return as the digital process provides a self-service journey with a digital return form and a tracking page that shares live updates.

Manual return process

  • Time-consuming, ineffective, and prompts mistakes
  • No brand presence post-purchase, negatively impacting customers’ trust in the brand
  • Return data is lost and not analysed to improve products
  • Paper-based return process. The customer doesn’t feel supported by the brand.
  • No synchronisation with third-party service providers

Digital Return process

  • Automated operations. Faster and more effective
  • Fully branded return process for the customers. Builds trust
  • Return data is stored and analysed to, later on, improve products and reduce returns
  • Fully digital return process. The customer has the upper hand at all times.
  • Full synchronisation with third-parties

Implementing a digital return process with a return management platform is more effective for both parts, retailers and customers, as it allows more freedom for the last and productivity boost of the brand. A digital return process significantly impacts three crucial things that we’ll deep dive into in the following section: strengthens the brand and its positioning, boosts customer retention and loyalty and reduces returns thanks to data analytics. Let’s get to it.

Advantages of a digital return process

We’ve discussed the post-purchase process and implementing a digital return journey, but now it’s time to run an in-depth exploration of the advantages to highlight the value it can bring to your brand. A study by invesp, highlights that 92% of shoppers who check the return process will buy something again if returns are easy, 67% of shoppers check the returns page before making a purchase, and 58% want a hassle-free “no questions asked” return policy.

Still not sold on the idea of switching from a manual to a digital return process? We’ve got more data! A study by Bain & Company found that conversion rates from acquisition campaigns are only 7% on average, but with a great post-purchase experience, this number can increase to 25%. Additionally, the study states “that companies with high levels of trust enjoy nearly five times the operating margin” of those who lack it. Don’t just take our word for it when we say that brands should invest more in the post-purchase experience because it helps develop brand trust and boosts customer loyalty.

Extend the brand experience post-purchase

Creating a brand identity and reputation is a long process that requires time, work and consistency. It’s essential for brands, and even more ecommerce brands, to build a brand story that resonates with people, is easily recognisable and is associated with trust. The return journey is not the most enjoyable process for a customer as it means delaying the chance to enjoy their purchase; a reason why it’s essential to make sure that they feel supported by the brand and feel they’re still inside the brand’s atmosphere. A digital return process is the best way to continue delivering an impeccable brand experience to your customers, mostly because of the tech aspect.

Offering a digital post-purchase experience allows brands to display their brand through the return process and, this way, reassure customers and keep them inside the brand’s atmosphere throughout the journey. At the same time, the digital aspect also allows brands to showcase products, special offers or seasonal campaigns throughout the return journey to incentivise future purchases and, this way, boost customer loyalty.

Return Tracking page powered by yayloh return management platform

Delight your customers to boost loyalty and retention

Across several recent studies, we’ve seen a strong correlation between the post-purchase experience and customer loyalty. Just because someone bought from you doesn’t mean they’ll be back. Customers are susceptible to unexpected behaviour and poor experiences during the post-purchase experience, especially the return process, combined with less than stellar product quality, which can significantly decrease repeat purchases.

We’re so used to being able to do things by ourselves that a process that is not self-service makes us question its effectiveness. A digital return process is fully automated for the retail team and completely self-service for the customer that wishes to process the return. By offering a self-service return process, you’re full-filling (and sometimes exceeding) your customer’s expectations which can do wonders for your brand’s customer loyalty and retention.

The cherry on top: reduce returns by understanding return data

At the beginning of the article, we mentioned that implementing a digital return process could also impact your company’s finances. The digital process starts with a digital return form that the customer has to complete with the return reason. The data provided by the customer gets saved on a data analytics platform that stores and analyses it to provide detailed insights at product and category levels.

By taking into account these data insights, the product team can spot product glitches and fix them to reduce returns in the short to mid-term period. Reducing returns can greatly impact two main points: time and costs. With fewer returns, the customer service team can dedicate more time to more important customer support subjects that require the human touch and save money if the company offers free returns depending on the return policy.

How can an ecommerce brand offer a digital return process?

Now that we’ve talked about what is a digital return process and its advantages, it’s time to understand how this tech-driven process comes to life. A digital return process is run by a return management software that integrates with ecommerce platforms and other ecommerce SaaS solutions to assist brands through the customer journey.

yayloh is the loyalty-first return management software for ecommerce brands. It offers a fully digital return process to streamline operations, collects and analyses data to reduce returns and boosts customer loyalty by delivering an excellent brand experience post-purchase.

Return management is a vital component of cultivating brand loyalty. We would argue that it is even more important than the initial purchase! While you may have received a new customer from your marketing or advertising efforts, returns management is how you can keep them. The return process is no longer simply an afterthought; it’s an essential part of the customer journey. With the assistance of yayloh return management platform, brands can ensure they’re retaining customers by building upon brand trust and the easiness of self-service.

Building Brand Loyalty by delivering a seamless return experience
yayloh
yayloh is the loyalty first return management platform.

yayloh is a SaaS solution for ecommerce players, which digitalizes and automates the return process and unleashes the potential of data. yayloh will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty while improving retailers profitability and reducing environmental impact.

Download our free whitepaper and gain important ecommerce and marketing insights, directly from Juni.

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