Online returns are inevitable. It doesn’t matter what your business is, product returns cannot be avoided. For parts sellers (especially dealerships), having the right return/refund process is vital to improving customer satisfaction, reducing obsolescence, and maintaining steady operational processes day-to-day. When dealing with auto parts, how should you handle online returns?
Here are some expert tips to help you determine the best return policy for your parts eCommerce strategy and how to reduce overall returns.
Providing Product Info
Providing enough accurate information about the auto parts you sell is a great way to reduce returns. Customers need to know upfront what they’re buying and be able to check that the parts you have listed match their needs.
- Does your catalog provide all the important details? This includes the car model, year, part number, and one or more detailed diagrams or photos of the part. A major reason customers return parts is that they ordered an incompatible auto part for their vehicle. Including detailed product info is a good way to prevent customers from ordering the wrong part. The more details, the better.
- Is there anything else they need to know? Specific details, like if the part fits the left or right side, are something customers need to know. Also, let them know if the part comes alone or in a pair when appropriate.
By the way, RevolutionParts has detailed diagrams for most parts and also enables dealers to easily bulk upload their own photos of the parts.
Customers shopping online expect businesses to have a strong shipping strategy in place. A quick delivery timeframe and consistent order status updates are vital to maintaining customer satisfaction, but what else do your shipping processes need to have?
- Get your packaging right. Consider the visual impact of your product when the customer receives it—is the product well-packaged and undamaged? How about the box? A customer is more likely to return a purchase they see as old, damaged, or unclean. Make sure everything is packaged appropriately (especially fragile parts) so it doesn’t get damaged in transit. For high-value parts, it may even be worth your time to get shipping insurance.
- How long does shipping take? Having fast, hassle-free shipping will go a long way to deter customers from wanting to return their purchases. If they need the part right away, but the part takes too long to arrive, they might end up shopping at a brick-and-mortar location instead. Today, Amazon has set the standard with 2-day shipping, so give your customers fast shipping options.
- Do a final check of each order. Check an order’s details before shipping to avoid mistakes—especially for very large or expensive parts. If you package the wrong part, then, of course, the customer is going to return it.
If you’re dealing with a high volume of sales and struggling to stay organized, then it’s time you invest in shipping management software. By keeping all your information in one place, a shipping manager can speed up the shipment process for you by automating the details.
Creating the Return Policy
Handling your returns poorly could deter a customer from shopping with you again, while the opposite could gain you a loyal customer and help you sell more auto parts online in the future. Here’s how you can set the best return policy for your parts business:
- Set clear criteria in an easy-to-access location. Use bullet points to make the policy easier to read and understand. Don’t use legal jargon, and don’t try to intimidate your customer with extra strict policies. Chances are, all you’re doing is turning away future sales. Remember that kindness and understanding will convert shoppers into future loyal customers. Be sure to provide your return policy in a designated area on your website and make it easy for your customers to find.
- Weigh the future retention against current costs. Is it worth it to go through with the return, or even pay free shipping, if it helps you retain customers who may come back to purchase again?
What should you include in your return policy to make it clear?
- Condition for return. Will you accept used or installed parts? Is it okay if the package was opened, but the part was never used? Determining what parts and accessories you are willing to accept for returns will make it easier for you to work with customers when they initiate the return process.
- Timeline for return. Many retail stores offer a 14-day return policy. But because of shipping and processing, this is not a realistic timeline for auto parts eCommerce, especially when it comes to handling oversized parts.
- Who is paying shipping? Hidden fees are the worst and will likely discourage your customers from purchasing with you again. Tell them upfront in your policy who is responsible for paying return shipping. Sometimes it’s a good idea to pay for shipping under a certain threshold since it’ll improve the customer’s experience.
- Will you offer free shipping? Free shipping is a great way to assure your customers that they can purchase from you with confidence, but you also need to keep your margin in mind. Do the possible future sales from this customer outweigh the cost of free shipping? Also, keep in mind that 82% of customers are more likely to complete a sale if free return shipping is offered.
- How will the refund be processed? Will you refund your customer the full price or allow them to exchange for a different part? This should be very clearly stated in your policy.
Having a return policy is more important now than ever— Invesp shows that 67% of eCommerce shoppers view a retailer’s return policy before making purchases, further indicating the importance of returns in driving purchasing decisions.
With the right shipping processes in place, you can reduce the number of parts returns, decrease parts obsolescence, improve customer satisfaction, and lower the impact of sales loss. Hassle-free returns can be a chance for your parts department to gain loyal customers that keep coming back to buy from you.
Want to learn how you can maximize your profits online? Download our free guide “How to Reduce Chargebacks” to get expert tips on how you can identify fraudulent orders and reduce the chances of losing potential parts sales. Once you can master these, your parts department will be running like a well-oiled machine.