December 4, 2013 | Sheri Hebbeln
Although the holidays are a fantastic opportunity to end the year on a high note with direct-to-consumer sales, this festive time may be tinged with a sense of dread for wineries that are worried about high numbers of returns immediately after. Particularly when it comes to online wine sales, customer returns can lead to complications and headaches because of the logistical hassles of sending wine back in addition to chargebacks.
Chargebacks are intended to build confidence in the security of online purchases, but they can quickly spell disaster for online merchants, according to Daily Deal Media. Rather than abiding by the return policy on an e-commerce website, buyers will demand their credit companies return the funds to their accounts, which forcefully removes money from the seller. This can lead to many different complications for wineries.
Since wineries can't offer free shipping like sellers of other product categories can, exchanges may lead to even more drama. However, sending cases back isn't a fun process for buyers either. Online returns are often a drag for shoppers because they have to send items back and then wait for the winery to process and send a new shipment or refund, Practical Ecommerce said. Since this extended process can have a negative impact on customer satisfaction, wineries need to minimize returns and find new ways to build brand loyalty.
How to reduce returns
While it's impossible to completely eliminate returns, there are several steps wineries can take to significantly lessen the amount of returned product. Winery websites should always have a clearly defined return policy so there is less ambiguity.
A simple adjustment to make is providing product details on the sales page and a toll-free customer service number. If buyers want to change their orders or make a mistake, they are less likely to request a chargeback from their credit card providers or return the merchandise if they can speak to a human representative.
Transform returns into an opportunity for new business
Although these steps may reduce the overall number of returns a winery experiences, there is bound to be refund activity after the holidays. E-commerce returns can be intimidating, but wineries can flip the experience around to boost customer loyalty and build long-lasting relationships, Practical Ecommerce stated.
The easier the process is for consumers, the more likely they are to come back to the winery's website for a future purchase. The source offered the following tips to transform the perception of returns:
- Impress consumers with the return/exchange process
It can be difficult for online merchants to understand why customers are returning products since they were the ones who made the selections. However, clients may view it differently, and from their points of view, something was wrong with the sale. If wineries do an effective job of handling and processing the return, customers won't walk away completely unsatisfied. The level of service they receive during this procedure could positively influence them to make a future purchase because they will have seen the winery is willing to work with them when there's a problem.
- Generate extra sales from returns
Wineries have a chance to make additional DTC sales any time they interact with customers. For example, employees can offer buyers who request an exchange the chance to add more items at a discounted rate to the order for a lower shipping rate.
Holiday returns are unavoidable in some cases, but they shouldn't be treated as lost opportunities. Loyal customers are a benefit that shouldn't be overlooked because they can contribute to higher DTC revenues in the long run.