Returns - How To Run A Successful Ecommerce Business

05 October, 2018

According to Nasdaq, by 2040, 95% of purchases will be facilitated by E-commerce, making this a market with incredible growth potential.

Whether you’re an offline retailer with an eye on the future, or a start-up looking to find a market for a new product or service, E-commerce offers the opportunity to reach a huge audience. However, not every online business survives in this incredibly competitive world, and it’s key to understand how to run a successful E-commerce if you want your enterprise to thrive.

Why run an E-commerce business?

77% of UK adults have bought goods or services online and we increasingly look to E-commerce retailers to find the best prices and the widest range of goods. Being part of the E-commerce market means positioning your business where an increasing majority of consumers look to shop. E-commerce also provides access to a global customer base with no geographical restrictions other than the ability to provide efficient shipping. It’s also a much more cost effective way for many retailers to operate with low – or no – overheads and the opportunity to minimise operating costs. The millennial generation now makes 54% of its purchases online, demonstrating that E-commerce is inherent in the shopping habits of younger customers. Therefore, online retail is the only way to future-proof a business.

How to stand out from the rest

Given the wealth of rewards available to successful E-commerce businesses, standing out in this crowded market is crucial.

  • Develop great products. You might have the biggest marketing budget in the world but if the products are low quality, lacking in innovation or just not appealing then your business won’t stand out.
  • Work on your branding. If you’re in a particularly competitive part of the market, exceptional branding can be the deciding factor for customers when choosing where to shop. Build your branding around around a unique selling point, such as handmade products or commitment to ethical business practices.
  • Personalise your customer’s experience. Personalisation can be as simple as changing language and currency settings depending on where your customer is. It will make your customer feel “at home” with your brand online.
  • Make sure checkout is smooth. As soon as customers feel frustrated during the checkout process they will abandon the purchase. So, for example, avoid the requirement for customers to create an account to purchase, limit the number of screens required for check out and provide plenty of payment options.

Offering great customer service

Customer service is a key component to E-commerce success, as it will generate loyalty and customers who can act as brand ambassadors to help you attract more business. Great customer service will require clear contact information, high responsiveness to customer service queries and swift resolution of issues. Returns are also a major part of ensuring that E-commerce customers feel like they are getting great service – if it’s difficult to return items or get a refund then you can guarantee customers won’t return. They may even give you a negative review online.

  • Clearly set out your returns policy, and make sure the process involved is simple and clear. 60% of consumers are unlikely to shop with a brand again after a difficult returns experience.
  • Can you afford to offer free returns? Some goods have very high rates of return – for example, clothing and jewellery can be 30%+. It may be preferable to charge a small fee to cover some of your costs.
  • Minimising returns will be crucial. Ensure products are as described and provide plenty of images. Consider a product review function so customers can see what others thought of the item to inform their own buying choice. Look into tracking reasons for return if rates are high to find out what the issue is.

There is a significant gap between a successful E-commerce business and an unsuccessful one – but often it’s the small efforts that make the biggest difference when it comes to closing it.

Sources: Customer Experience Magazine/Royal Mail/UPS/Pure360

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