PPartner Post

How Gift Cards & Loyalty Points Reduce Return & Exchange Costs

Lucas Walker at Gorgias author profile image
gift cards loyalty points gorgias featured
gift cards loyalty points gorgias featured

Every single holiday season includes returns and exchanges for eCommerce brands. In fact, according to Forbes, the 2020 holiday season is set to have the total value of returned items be $47 to $57 billion.

That’s a lot.

It’s also the proof we all needed to show us that as the holidays inch closer, having a streamlined process for returns is essential. What’s also important, is to try and keep those customers who are doing returns from going somewhere else.

You may be thinking just how you do that when they’re, well… returning your product, but there are ways.

One is by taking advantage of using gift cards & loyalty points.

How? We’re happy you asked.

To start, let’s dive into some reasons why customers normally ask for exchanges or returns on products, especially over the holidays.

  • The product(s) didn’t meet customer expectations
  • The product(s) didn’t match the description or imagery on the website
  • Received an incorrect product or size
  • The product is no longer needed when it arrives
  • The item was bought during the holiday season

It’s essential to make sure what your product pages claim to deliver, is actually accurate. However, the most alarming out of all the reasons is that items that are simply bought during the holiday season are one of the biggest reasons.

Last year, in 2019, roughly $41.6B worth of products were returned.

That’s a high number, and this year even more people are looking to shop online. The problem is, for ecommerce businesses, returns and exchanges can be pricey.

This is exactly where gift cards and loyalty points come in.

The Advantages of Using Gift Cards & Loyalty Points

Unfortunately, for returns in particular, it’s becoming somewhat of a normal thing nowadays. In fact, “many customers buy with an explicit plan to immediately return some or all of their items.”

What’s really tough is that returns end up costing merchants much more than most people think. This means that retailers, especially during the holiday season, need to come up with ways to offset those costs.

On top of that, it can take away time from your customer support team as you’ll have more people reaching out with questions and concerns about their return. Many of our partners at Gorgias utilize the platform to make this process more automated.

For example, if someone really wanted to refund, you can do this directly in Gorgias without having to actually go into the backend if you’re using Shopify. This makes things much faster and smoother for you and the customer.

Increase Customer Lifetime Value

By taking advantage of gift cards and loyalty points when it comes to returns and exchanges over the holidays, your brand can really increase its customer lifetime value.

To start, what actually is customer lifetime value (CLV)?

Shopify explains it as “The lifetime value of a customer, or customer lifetime value (CLV), represents the total amount of money a customer is expected to spend in your business, or on your products, during their lifetime.”

CLV has become a metric that more and more eCommerce business owners focus on, and there are good reasons to:

  • It’s more expensive to gain new customers and keep them
  • Increasing CLV is a key factor in growing revenue without increasing the number of customers which can be costly
  • These customers can become ambassadors for your brand

Some businesses are easier to get repeat purchases. Take skincare as an example. If people love the product they bought, if they run out they’re going to need another skincare product to cleanse.

Gift Cards & Loyalty Points to Increase CLV

Offering gift cards or points as an exchange option will bring people back to the store to buy from you.

Since it’s safe to assume the item was a gift, it also gives these potential customers a chance to not just browse your website, but purchase something that they actually want while viewing everything else you have to offer.

gift card loyalty points smile graphic
Source: Smile.io

This option basically makes it a guarantee that they’ll shop at your online store, and if you have a great product to offer, it’s very likely they’ll return. In fact, a customer has a 27% chance of returning to your store after one purchase, but after a third purchase that increases to 54%.

In other words, there’s clear potential here.

By using the awareness of your brand that this customer already has and using the right communication along with options, you can successfully turn them into a life-long customer and ultimately, an ambassador.

There’s Potential To Increase Your Average Order Value

Now, these returns if you’re offering gift cards or loyalty points also can bring on a higher average order value than anticipated. This is especially true if the return is a gift from somebody else.

How would this work? It’s simpler than you may think.

If someone’s returning an item and receives a gift card for the return then there’s a good chance they’ll spend a little more than what’s on the gift card to get what they actually want. This, in turn, won’t feel like they’re spending much so it’s very likely they’ll end up being okay with purchasing something of higher value.

Let’s take “Jason” for example.

Jason recently bought $50 worth of socks and requested an exchange.

So, you sent him a $50 gift card, from there, he ended up purchasing something worth $55 since he wanted to make sure he used all of the credit on the card at once.

Right there, you were able to increase the average order value by 10%.

Now, let’s say an eCommerce store receives 300 return requests per month with an average order of $50. If you’re able to increase that order value of half of the returns by 10%, just like Jason did, that’s an additional $9k for your business per year.

gift cards loyalty points smile spend
Source: Smile.io

Plus, if they love the product they’ll continue to come back. What’s great is that your repeat, loyal customers tend to spend up to three times more than the lower 90%.

So, as they begin to have a longer customer lifetime value, you begin to see a higher average order value for those customers who may have started from a return.

How To Implement Gift Cards & Loyalty Points for Your Brand

Don’t worry, it’s actually pretty easy!

1. Find a Loyalty Gift Card Application

Most eCommerce users can take their pick from the app stores in Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, or other major platforms.

shopify app store

That said, many Gorgias partners use Smile.io as their app of choice for gift cards & loyalty points.

Smile.io focuses on maximizing your relationship with customers to bring a higher CLV by turning them into “passionate brand advocates.” They do this through loyalty programs, VIP programs, and referrals.

smile.io lander

Gorgias & Smile.io

Gorgias also houses integrations with apps like Smile.io which focuses on maximizing brand loyalty through reward programs. By using our integration with Smile.io, there are many ways you can utilize loyalty points.

For one, your support team is able to see your customer’s reward program data right next to tickets. This saves time searching for customer profiles and trying to figure out the number of loyalty points they might have.

On top of that, you can use Smile.io variables in your macro responses, this includes points balances, referral URLs, VIP tier, and more.

Using these variables in your rules will automate steps for your support team, saving them time and energy that can be used in other areas.

Example: you could reach out automatically with a macro all customers that asked for a return 21 days ago and that have point balances > 0 to engage them to use their credit.

Wondering how to get Smile.io integrated into your Gorgias account? It’s easy. Just head to your Gorgias account, click setting, then go to integrations and add Smile.

2. Onboard your support agent team

Make sure your support team knows to focus on the loyalty program as opposed to a typical refund. And to make things easier, you can use macros in Gorgias to create a template of answers for return requests. This saves time and effort for your support team!

Customer support template #1: A default answer that explains the process and conditions of returning, along with the loyalty program
Customer support template #2: The confirmation of receiving the return box along with how to use the loyalty program

Other Apps for Gift Cards & Loyalty Points

When it comes to gift cards as opposed to loyalty programs, there are also great apps out there like Rise.ai.

This app focuses specifically on gift cards and store credit solutions for returns and refunds. Their program works with eCommerce brands to effectively offer gift cards, loyalty cards, rewards, referrals, and also manage refunds.

Both Rise.ai and Smile.io are Gorgias partners, and implementing these apps can save you time and money on refunds over the holiday season.

Haven’t used Gorgias yet? No big deal! You can try it out free for 7 days!

About Lucas Walker

Lucas Walker is a member of Gorgias, the helpdesk that empowers outstanding customer service experiences for independent eCommerce brands and turns customer support into a profit center.