Future Proof Your Returns Process for the Festive Period & Beyond

Melissa UK Team | Address Autocomplete, Address Validation, Duplicate Elimination, E-Mail, Ecommerce, eIDV, Geocoding, Global IP Locator, Identity Verification, United Kingdom

eCommerce has become a widespread buying option for most of us, especially from the effects from COVID which has forced many to further adapt to the option of buying online and being our only channel of purchasing from our favourite brands.

As everything around us becomes more digitalised, eCommerce has proven itself to be the way forward, but it comes with drawbacks. Firstly, and foremost, being able to touch the actual product, trying it on and having that ‘evaluation’ process instore. A lot of customers value this aspect which keeps our highstreets brick & motor stores valued by many. 

Secondly, the everyday problems that always occur; item does not fit, item does not look as shown on the screen or described, and the item is faulty or damaged.
Retailers are responsible for picking up the initial front-end costs if any returns need to be made from the customer, as a common part to an online stores policy, this gives consumers the confidence to shop freely and hassle-free on their website or online channels.

But what about the costs involved in upholding this promise? Let’s take a look at the main 5 below. 

Cost of a refund: Due to poor customer service or unhappy customers.

Shipping & HandlingWhen e-retailers offer free returns to entice customers to spend, this investment into the transportation cost is lost when products are sent back.

Logistics: One that is often overlooked by many but deems to have high expectations is the wait around delivery times. While same day, to express delivery options are always better than standard, make sure to upload that promise or customers will be quick to look for alternatives and refunds requests will be made.

Fraudulent Purchases:  Another underlying issue that is becoming more of a headache for e-retailers is fraudulent and fake purchases. Either from stolen contact details or payment methods, in most cases, the merchant will have to accumulate the return costs from this. 

Cost of Product DispositionsOne major consideration when items are returned is the inspection for resale, this tends to take up time and staff resources. Another point to consider is that retailers offering lengthy return periods face issues with products not being either liable for resale or not in fashion when it comes back, which results in the product being liquidated, which tends to be sold for less than its perceived value. 


A Returns Strategy that is Future Proof

We found that 82% of customers won’t return to make another purchase if an online store has an overly complicated or difficult return process, furthermore, we found that 72% of consumers say that they will spend more with an e-retailer that DOES have a hassle-free return process.
This exhibits that having to return unwanted goods is already a bother for us consumers, but for retailers, there is more work and cost involved. Retailers must understand the increasing expectations and the competitive landscape among standing out which is all about the customer, the convenience and the initiative’s that tailor to the overall experience.  

The above points show how easy it can be for e-retailers to amass more costs if a returns strategy isn’t up to date, and while we expect that most online stores have solutions in place already, with the growth of eCommerce, retailers must always be looking for more ways service this and implement more tools and practices to avoid the future mishaps that can cause underlying issues throughout.  

What better time to highlight this then the festive season, proven to be the busiest period for retailers, shortly followed by a barrage of returns. Digital commerce states that returns have increased January year to year by 26%

Customer Data Is Key

Putting data quality practices in place is key for retailers, although there are many surrounding use cases, future-proofing your return strategy is defiantly one that data quality tools can do.

We start with our first recommendation being an address autocomplete & lookup tool, this is vital for any retailer wanting to enhance their checkout process as it collects accurate address data at the point of entry. Whether its local or international customers, the address lookup tool will suggest a standardised, formatted and verified postal address to ensure timely deliveries are met anywhere in the world while making sure every address that enters your system is a verified address giving reassurance of the delivery reaching the customer.

Our second recommendation is the use of geocoding & location intelligence, this enhancement can add latitude and longitude coordinates to a shopper’s verified address to pinpoint exact distances from the nearest distribution centre or warehouse which tailors towards being able to offer same day or next day delivery option.

Much like eCommerce giants Amazon, being able to offer more convenience will give you that edge over your competition.

The third recommendation is achieving single customer view (SCV), having that one golden record that gives a full 360 view on a customer enables better segmentation to build profiles based on past purchases & buying habits, engagement though various channels, feedback and more. This can be important when evaluating those ‘high-risk customers’ which is a customer that is more likely to return a product.

Deduplicating your data will also clear up any clustered or partial bits of data that may be scattered throughout various departments. This is usually caused by the same person inputting different customer information when engaging with a company through different channels.
Having that initial single customer view throughout a whole organisation will also allow better efficiency between departments, ie; marketing & promotions being able to quickly offer a 20% voucher to a customer if the logistics team see that their order has been delayed.

Our last recommendation is knowing who your customer is (KYC), being able to verify the identity of any person behind a purchase from your online store will shield your business from fraudulent activity. An issue that is become more common as digitalisation grows upon us. 

Using a trusted data partner that can access trusted reference data like electoral rolls, credit agencies and other watchlists will be useful if you are selling high valued products to a particular sector or particular audiences. The use of cross-validating a customer contact data such as proof of address to show that a person lives at that address provided along with email and phone to verify that those two elements are live, callable, contactable and not fake will protect the merchant from any potential fraudulent traps. 

Also, we have found the enrichment tool of IP location being a useful barrier in protecting an e-retailer. Being able to see where your visitors are coming from and if a person who says that live in Manchester wanting to purchase high valued goods but showing an IP location in Poland can give clarity to this type of fraudulent activity.


Yield Minimal Returns

eCommerce continues to grow and is becoming ever more relied on year to year. This tends to bring most retailers to the primary realisation that customer demand will follow from this. Needing to tailor to the increasing expectation, a retailer’s return strategy will be a key asset in setting them apart from the competition. Applying data-driven practices will vastly work towards fine-tuning their future return process that will ultimately yield minimal returns and uphold those loyal customers and the repeat profit they bring.


Schöne Bescherung – mit Adressvalidierung statt Geoblocking im E-Commerce

Melissa DE Team | 2019, Address Check, Address Quality, Address Validation, Address Verification, Adressen-Autovervollständigung, Adressprüfung, Adressvalidierung, Ecommerce, Geocoding, Geokodierung, Germany, Global Address Verification, Global IP Locator, International Address Verification, IP Location, IP-Adressen lokalisieren, Presseberichte | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dieses Weihnachten wird anders – zumindest, was das Jahresendgeschäft der Onlinehändler betrifft. Denn die jüngste Geoblocking-Verordnung, die seit Anfang Dezember 2018 angewendet werden muss, fordert eine andere Praxis als die bisher verbreitete zum Schutz vor Betrug und zur Einhaltung der gesetzten Lieferbedingungen. Kunden dürfen im Hinblick auf den Zugang zu Waren oder Dienstleistungen aufgrund ihres Wohnsitzes oder dem Ort der Niederlassung nicht mehr unterschiedlich behandelt werden. Zum Beispiel ist es verboten, Websitebesucher aufgrund ihrer IP-Adresse automatisch ohne deren Zustimmung auf länderspezifische Shops, die hinsichtlich Sprache, Zahlungsarten und Lieferbedingungen angepasst sind, weiterzuleiten. Vielmehr müssen Unternehmen dafür sorgen, dass alle Ländershops bzw. alle nationalen Internetseiten für sämtliche europäischen Kunden erreichbar sind. Um dadurch entstehende Risiken auszuschließen, sind andere Lösungen gefragt. Dazu zählen die internationale Adressvalidierung und die IP-Lokalisierung wie mit dem IP Locator von Melissa, die Onlinehändlern eine große Hilfe sein kann. So haben Unternehmen im digitalen Zeitalter die Möglichkeit, neue Märkte sicher zu beliefern.

Read more “Schöne Bescherung – mit Adressvalidierung statt Geoblocking im E-Commerce”

What is IP Geolocation & Why is it Important for E-commerce?

Melissa Team | Global IP Locator | , , , , ,

Identifying geolocation based on an IP addresses is a boon for any e-retailer. The process is simple yet the benefits are extensive. From fraud prevention to higher conversions and customer loyalty, it’s worth at least being aware of what IP geolocation is and what it is capable of in ecommerce.

Let’s dig in.

IP addresses are what make communication over the Internet possible. It allows the two-way connection between your computer, smart phone, tablet, printer, modem, etc. to the other via the Internet. An IP address is a string of numbers separated by four periods that identifies a device and its connection through the Internet. Now, where this gets interesting for e-retailers is what IP addresses can return. It can include information about your web visitor’s country, region, city, latitude and longitude, ZIP Code™, Internet Service Provider (ISP), and domain name. This information can be leveraged in a multitude of ways for ecommerce, but we will focus on three important uses – fraud prevention, global customer experience and geotargeting.

Fraud Prevention

Fraud is in undeniable abundance throughout the ecommerce industry and is growing nearly 30% each year. Because banks do not absorb the costs of fraud for ecommerce businesses, as they normally would for a brick and mortar location, the financial impact of fraudulent activities is primarily the e-retailer’s responsibility. This costs online merchants nearly $3 for every dollar lost! What does this mean for a business? It means harnessing methods of prevention is the least expensive action in dealing with Internet fraud, password sharing and abuse of service, to protect your business, your customers and inevitably your bottom line.

Using IP location allows you to see where your customer is ordering from and match that to the billing address that they provided. Simply matching this information will give you a better idea as to whether they are a trustworthy client or a fraud. For example, a provided billing address is located in Wisconsin, yet the IP address is located to the Ukraine. This could merit further investigation prior to shipment. If necessary, entire regions may be blocked due to high-risk fraudulent activity sourced from IP locations.

Customer Experience

Web pages have 15 seconds to engage a web visitor. This means, your conversion rate and sale hinges on a 15-second first impression. With ecommerce booming on a global scale, opportunities to engage a worldwide audience is an unavoidable endeavor and should be harnessed to the max.

If a customer comes across a web page while residing in Germany and lands on an offer in English with American currency, they may understand the language and may be able to convert the currency, but they may not feel inclined to stay long. Their impression would be that this site was not intended for them. Matching native language and currency to a customer’s geolocation, empowers your global reach.

Knowing what country or region your customer resides can automatically redirect that customer to a page that literally speaks to them, in their language, in their currency and in their style. Directing to a region-specific web or landing page will make a tremendous difference in customer conversion and their impression of your company. Even a small business can benefit tremendously from IP geolocation by presenting a more globally-aware web experience.


Geotargeting refers to using a person’s location to power marketing initiatives and customer conversion. Geotargeting empowers personalized ads, special location merchandising, and engaging a customer on a local level, whether your business is actually local or not.

With IP geolocation, highlighting the nearest physical retail location to a customer has shown to drive more foot traffic to that brick and mortar store. This can be leveraged further by creating in-store offers through your online store to drive more traffic and higher conversions. For companies that carry multiple product lines, basing promotions off of location can also drive higher ROI and conversions. For instance, if you are running a website for a tire company, you would highlight different terrain tires based on different locations. Someone shopping for tires in Alaska, for example, may not be attracted to the same tires as someone shopping in Arizona. Which web page they land on would then be determined by their IP geolocation.

Merchandise, visuals and promotions all work in the same manner. A web page targeting different audiences speaks volumes to web visitors. Powering local offers and community services or announcements, all work to engage your customers and truly make that first impression stick the landing.

The Bottom Line

IP geolocation technology is an inexpensive and widely beneficial tool. It will help flag suspicious buying patterns with location-matching techniques. It will power your global market initiatives by matching language and currency to your customer’s region. It will allow you to personalize your marketing and promotional offers based on location to drive conversion and create loyal customers. IP location technology powers all these initiatives and many more. Read all about Melissa’s Global IP API and call a Melissa specialist at 1-800-MELISSA (635-4772) for a free quote so you can harness the power of IP Geolocation for your business today!