Online shops should stop looking at shipping as an expense and instead view it as a way of attracting customers. It is a fact that online shoppers check out an e-commerce merchant's delivery and return terms before making a purchase, which is why having a choice in shipping options is essential for converting sales.

Delivery and return terms in an online shop are just as important points of a sale as what items are actually being sold, as online shoppers assess these terms before hitting the buy button. E-commerce merchants must evaluate their delivery and return terms as closely as they do the rest of their product assortment. After all, your delivery and return policies must be attractive, transparent, and at the right price.

Attractive Options Tailored to Your Target Group

In order to attract customers with your delivery and return terms, you have to know how your customers really want their online orders delivered, and this can vary by region. Research from Bring shows that more Nordic customers want their online purchases delivered at home instead of picking them up themselves, but only if home delivery is cheaper than other delivery options and more flexible in terms of delivery time. This is surprising as self-pickup is the most widely used delivery option in the Nordic region.

Attractive return terms are the ones, simply put, that are convenient for the online shopper. Research from UPS shows that as many as 81% of consumers expect that they can return online purchases in a physical store or send the items back to the online shop with pre-paid return labels. In other words, make returns as hassle-free as possible for your customer.

Transparency Is Key

If your delivery and return terms are hard to find on your website, customers will most likely leave your online shop without buying anything. You have to put the terms right in front of your customer, on the top of your homepage in a banner, and on every product site. Remember, many customers don’t enter your online shop through your frontpage; a lot of them have probably googled a product and found your online shop that way.

Make your delivery and return terms easy to understand. In short, describe delivery method, time, and price. Regarding returns, write a step-by-step guide on how to return the purchase. If your customers have to figure out themselves how they can return a product to you, they will most likely leave your online shop before even buying. This how-to-return information should appear multiple places, such as both on your website and in information to your customer (such as in an order confirmation sent to their email and enclosed in the box for their order). Also let the customer know when they can expect to have their money back. Instant refunds are preferable.

Convenience Beats Price

Free shipping is a powerful tool to drive sales, but if online shops don’t know how to cover the costs of offering this, it is unstainable. There are several free shipping strategies to use without destroying your business. However, free is not the only option for online shops. Research shows that online shoppers are willing to pay for delivery, if it is faster and more convenient. The same thing goes for returns; a study shows that 79% of consumers want free return shipping, whereas 92% of consumers surveyed said that they will buy again if the product return process is easy. This shows that free returns are important to online shoppers, but not as important as an easy returns process.

In conclusion, giving your delivery and return terms as much attention and making them as attractive as the products you sell is essential for winning customers over in today’s cut-throat e-commerce business.

Lotte Weichenfeldt Schjøtt is Communication Consultant at Consignor, a leading Delivery Management software company, where she writes news articles and press releases about Consignor’s software developments and organization. Lotte is also the Editor of Consignor’s blog Universe of Delivery, where she writes articles about e-commerce, logistics, delivery and transport.