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Jim Agger
 
May 8, 2014 | eCommerce , Fulfillment/Shipping | Jim Agger

Wine Shipping Strategies Need to Extend to Returns

In a perfect world, customers would be completely satisfied every time they buy wine online and you would never have to process any returned merchandise. However, this isn't the reality of online shopping. It's harder for consumers to know what they're getting before their packages are delivered. Ignoring the inevitability of returns won't minimize the impact. Retailers should treat exchanges and returns as an opportunity to create lasting customer satisfaction. Maintaining a clear and effective returns policy can help wineries overcome this challenge. 

Whether customers accidentally ordered the wrong product or received defective merchandise, people return orders for a variety of reasons. But one thing is the same: They want the returns process to be as easy as possible. According to Multichannel Merchant and Newgistics' "Executive Summary: Returns" report, 85 percent of consumers cited a poor return experience as the primary reason why they would not do business with a particular online merchant again. 

Some online retailers do not accept returns at all, which can compound customer frustrations, Econsultancy said. Additionally, some ecommerce stores make consumers jump through hoops to send packages back. You can guard yourself against complaints from dissatisfied customers by strengthening your return policy and ensuring you have the right wine shipping options in place. 

How to create and promote a return policy
A clearly defined policy that appears in a visible location on your website can alleviate some confusion. Placing this information on checkout pages can help customers understand what to expect before they complete the purchase. For example, you should specify if an item can't be returned and be clear about the time limits for exchanges. Customers shouldn't have to dig around your website for this information. The wording of your return policy should be as free from jargon as possible. Depending on your business, you can offer a return window of between 30 and 90 days. 

When customers want to return wine, encouraging an exchange can be beneficial for both parties. Above everything else, consumers want to feel like they have options. Whether they will be receiving a cash refund, store credit or separate merchandise, having different choices can make returns a more pleasant experience for shoppers, Multichannel Merchant stated. If a product is damaged in transit, offering a full refund may be the best decision to save the customer relationship. If this process is handled well, shoppers are more likely to buy from your online wine store in the future. 

How to reduce the overall number of returns
While returns can't be avoided altogether, you can take steps to significantly decrease the number your employees have to process. Returns can be prevented by greater accuracy. One of the major reasons consumers return merchandise was because the product wasn't what they expected. Providing more information, such as photos and tasting profiles, on your website can reduce the buyer's remorse. Shoppers may add the wrong item to their carts and not realize it until the product arrives. Before consumers proceed to the checkout page, you can have them validate their orders so they don't buy something they didn't intend to.

Integrated, accurate inventory management ensures there are fewer mistakes when orders are processed. If orders are correct the first time, customers won't have to send wine back. WineDirect's fulfillment services ensure the highest standard's of accuracy so customers get the right products every time, and all merchandise arrives intact. This approach can help you reduce the number of packages that customers send back, but it's a good idea to have a strong policy in place so consumers have options. 

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