5 tips to succeed in international returns management


In Europe, 63.4% of online shoppers buy from foreign retailers. In search of the best price or a product that’s not available in their country, there are many reasons why e-shoppers are increasingly purchasing overseas. Today, retailers must be prepared to cater to a foreign client base.

Today, returns management has become the third most important purchasing criteria for online consumers, after delivery and price. In this article, discover the best practices to manage your international returns.

NB: If you’re interested in learning about internationalisation at Dmexco 2019, take a look at our exclusive cross-border e-commerce stand (hall 7, stand C050). Arrange a meeting here.

Cross-border online purchases are on the rise

Online shoppers are increasingly looking for products outside their virtual borders. It’s therefore no longer necessary to establish a physical presence in other markets. One of the easiest ways to test foreign markets is to start with online advertising or social networks. Promoting social content and online advertising in other countries allows you to test the profitability of your project, even if you only monitor customer retention and not revenue. One of the best strategies is to experiment by selling via marketplaces since, in certain regions, 60% of online sales are now generated on these platforms.

In Europe, 63.4% of online shoppers buy from foreign retailers, while the global average is 57%. According to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study 2019, the reasons driving cross-border e-commerce are lower prices (46%), products only available in other countries (40%) and better product quality (30%).

Returns management: the challenge of internationalisation

There are various factors to keep in mind when planning an internationalisation. Legal obligations from the buyer’s country of origin must be adhered to, products must be advertised in the appropriate language, local currencies must be taken into account and the market’s popular payment methods must be integrated. Logistics and good customer support are particularly important. Differences between countries in terms of transport infrastructure, product storage and delivery methods can be problematic for online merchants. It is sometimes difficult to arrange delivery to a large number of countries.

Important, but often neglected, returns management is an essential step in cross-border expansion. After price (67%) and delivery (61%), the returns policy (52%) is now the third most important criteria for online shoppers when making a purchase. The figures speak for themselves: 82% of e-shoppers consider returns as part of their shopping experience, 72% say they will buy more if the return process is simple and intuitive, and 78% would regularly buy more from a retailer that offers free returns.

The latest UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study also found that 73% of online shoppers say their experience during the returns process determines whether they will order again from a retailer or not.

Five best practices for managing international returns

Clear return policy

Make your return policies available on various areas of your e-commerce website and/or marketplace store. Consider to insert them into each of your product pages.

30-day return

Offer a 30-day return, preferably free of charge if your cash flow allows it. 53% of online shoppers believe a 30-day return policy is fair.

Improve your product catalogue

Collect feedback data and use it to improve your product catalogue. Bear in mind 22% of buyers return a product because it doesn’t match the description, while 23% return because they received an incorrect item. Optimise as much as you can!

Refund within 5 days

Refund your customers within 5 days, or even immediately for a low-value product. More customers will be ready to replace the incorrect item with a different product from your website.

Keep your customers informed

Inform your customers at every step of the returns process, even if there is a problem. Don’t wait for the buyer to request to be informed whether their return has been received or to receive an invoice. Be proactive in your communication!

Image: Pixabay

Naomi Botting

Field Marketing Specialist

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