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How to Set Up Your Return Policy and Reduce Returns

There will always be a couple of dissatisfied customers, whether it is because they ordered the wrong part, found a cheaper alternative, or because the wrong part was shipped to them. What is the best way to handle returns and turn them into sales? Better yet, how can you prevent returns and sell more auto parts online?

Providing Product Info

Providing some information about the auto parts you sell is a great way to reduce returns. Customers need to know upfront what they’re buying, and this is the spot to explain the details.

  • Does your catalog provide all important details? This includes car model, year, part number, and one or more detailed diagrams or photos of the part. A major reason customers return parts is because 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, is something customers need to know. When appropriate, also let them know if the part comes alone or in a pair.

By the way, RevolutionParts has detailed diagrams for most parts and also enables dealers to easily bulk upload their own photos of the parts.

Quality Shipping

Strange as it sounds, the steps you take in the shipping process can affect your returns.

  • Is the auto part safe? 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 destroyed in shipment. 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 purchase. If they need the part right away but the part from you takes too long to arrive, they might end up shopping at a brick and mortar location instead. A study by UPS found that automotive eCommerce buyers are willing to wait an average of 8 days to receive their purchases, and an additional 4 days for free shipping.
  • Do a final check of each order. Check the details of an order before shipping in order 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 make the best of your return policy:

  • Have a clear return policy 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.
  • 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?
  • 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. Did you know that that this article by Entrepreneur found a decrease in returns with an increase in time for return?
  • Who is paying shipping? Hidden fees are the worst, and would 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 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—the UPS study shows that 70% of automotive eCommerce shoppers view a retailer’s return policy before making purchases, further indicating the importance of returns in driving purchasing decisions. It also indicates that automotive shoppers are far less likely to return products than the general online consumer—27% compared to the 62% of general online consumers.

When you handle the process correctly, you can reduce the number of returns and not take as much of a loss. In fact, hassle-free returns can be a chance to gain loyal customers that keep coming back to shop with YOU!