How to ‘Save the Sale’ with Shopify Exchanges

It was the right player, Cubs MVP Chris Bryant, the right royal blue travel jersey. But it was a large and the customer needed a medium. Time for a quick product exchange.

For many retailers on popular ecommerce platforms (Shopify, Magento…), there is no such thing as a quick product exchange process, because there is not built-in feature to manage this. So this retailer maintained a “sale-killing” exchange policy. So if a customer wanted to exchange an item, they had to return the original large jersey and then go back online to purchase the smaller item. The consumer sent back the return – but found the jersey cheaper on another site. Goodbye, revenue, and most likely, future business from that consumer. Not a scenario any retailer wants to see happen.

Offering Product Exchanges Is A Must

To consumers, a smooth and easy returns process is a highly important part of the shopping experience. UPS found 81% of consumers want a convenient returns policy that is hassle-free with no return shipping cost. Obviously, this doesn’t refer to when the customer has changed their mind about the product, but when it is the fault of the retailer (e.g. wrong product, size, damaged…).

Exchanges are just as important. Consumers bring the same high expectations to returns, UPS found, and more than a quarter of consumers called quick turnaround on product exchanges an important element. When a consumer requests an exchange, they want to remain your customer – they just need your help to be fully satisfied with their purchase.

But most eCommerce platforms have a tough time accommodating exchanges, because they’re more complicated than they appear. Here’s why:

As soon as a customer requests an exchange, the retailer must reserve that inventory, wait
for the return to arrive, and then ship the replacement. Sounds simple, but several problems emerge:

  1. There is no native features within eCommerce platforms to manage an exchange, so the functionality to reserve inventory must either be custom built, or managed through a Shopify plug-in, and those don’t always accomodate your processes.
  2. What if the return doesn’t arrive? Should the retailer reserve the inventory for a week? Two weeks? The retailer doesn’t want inventory to go stale, but they risk losing the sale if the return arrives after their deadline.
  3. An ecommerce exchange can be slow: You need to issue the returns paperwork (RMA, return label), wait for the item, receive, inspect, approve, re-ship. Customers’ collective patience is getting shorter and shorter.

As a result, many retailers, like the Chicago team jersey seller, don’t have an exchange policy. That puts two important things at risk: customer satisfaction and the sale. Separating an exchange into a return and a new purchase frees the consumer to speed up the cycle on their own by immediately ordering the new item elsewhere.

Creating a Shopify Exchange Process

There is a better way. Here is the best practice to offer a Shopify exchange:

  1. Manage the commerce exchange process to collect the reason code, issue the RMA and generate a shipping label, using a tool like ReturnLogic’s Returns ORIGINATE™ for Shopify
  2. Reserve the required inventory.
  3. As soon as you receive notification from the carrier that the return package is received, ship the replacement product.

Retailers can attain some of these capabilities by knitting together multiple Shopify add-ons, or creating manual but slow and error-prone spreadsheets. Others require custom development. Or, they can access all of them through ReturnLogic’s Returnalytics suite <>. 

Research by JDA Software found retailers that cannot consumers’ meet expectations risk losing 33% of shoppers to a competitor that offers a more convenient or streamlined shopping experience. Exchanges are part of that. The more a retailer can make a transaction friction-free, the better experience they can deliver. Satisfied customers become repeat customers.

New call-to-action