The following post is made possible by support from UPS.
A reader wrote:
Do you have any game changing business ideas you'd care to share? I'll give you 10%! :)
Has this happened to you?
You order something online, the perfect pair of shoes, or a radical new coffee maker, or medicine for the dog, and when it arrives it's not exactly what you wanted. Perhaps you clicked on the wrong item in the online store, or maybe the description was poorly written, or the lighting was bad in the photo. No matter the problem, and regardless whether it was your fault or the company's, it's not the kind of mistake that you would have made had you actually picked up the item off the shelf and placed it into your shopping cart in a real, live, retail store.
More and more of us do almost all of our shopping online. Not only is it convenient to quickly order that one thing you need, but it is also possible to find things online that you wouldn't normally have access to in your day-to-day life. E-commerce has extended all our shopping ranges out past the horizon.
But online shopping is fraught with one kind of trouble: returns! Sending a product back, or doing an exchange, isn't nearly so easy as purchasing something to begin with.
For one thing, returns often requires more than just a point-and-click. You have to fill out return authorization forms and explain why your returning the item. You have to purchase return shipping and either wait for the next visit from the UPS man or stop off at a drop off location.
You'll need a box. Don't forget the box.
And a label.
And probably some other kind of label for the inside of the box.
And on and on and on.
Then you have to wait for the product to arrive and be inspected.
Before, finally, maybe, you'll see a chargeback on your credit card statement.
It's almost enough to drive you back into the retail stores.
There has to be a better way!
There is: use customer returns to your sales advantage.
If you can make the process of returning an item, from the first click of "return it now" to the moment the charge is refunded on the credit card, more smooth and seamless than anyone has ever experienced before, as magical as that first time your ordered something from Amazon, downloaded an album from iTunes in seconds or received a DVD from your Netflix queue, your company will be a success.
And you might want to get out of whatever retail business you think you're in, and provide your amazing, showstopping, heart-palpating returns as a service to other online stores.
You'll make a million, or twenty.