No retail business wants a product to be returned. It’s a whole lot of work for no sale. But returns culture is surging alongside the prevalence of e-commerce stores. People are buying more and returning more. Subsequently, consumer expectation is high. This means that businesses must work even harder to attract and keep their customers by collaboratively managing their returns policy. So how do you use this process to actually reduce the product return rate for your e-commerce store?
This counterintuitive measure is vital in the long run. Your returns policy is a significant factor in managing and reducing cart abandonment. So you need to find a balanced policy that encourages the sale whilst still discouraging a return. Both of these outcomes are actually achieved through a liberal or customer focussed returns policy.
Don’t hide your returns policy! Keeping this part of your e-commerce store visible is a vital part of preventing cart abandonment.
Don’t make the returns process labour intensive for your customers, as this makes them less likely to make future purchases. Returns portals and quick tick box return codes give you the valuable data that you need without putting off your customer.
Increase the timescale for your return. The less urgency that a customer feels to undertake a return actually makes them more likely not to proceed with that return. This longer time period can also enable you to communicate additional content that dissuades a return.
You’ve made your returns policy transparent, so what next? Offer clarity of product information to empower your customers to make more informed purchasing choices. Managing customer expectations is a key part of reducing returns rates. So include as much information as possible about dimension, materials and structure.
A crucial way of conveying detailed information about a product is through imagery. By supplying high-quality images from a range of angles and close up functionality, your consumer can more accurately gauge their expectation of the product. For clothing especially, accompany your images with contextual information, for example, height, about models. This is a great way to indicate the intended fit of a garment.
You think all your products are great, otherwise, you wouldn’t be offering them out there! However not everything works for everyone, so offer a place for frank and honest customer reviews and feedback. Future customers can use this forum to inform their purchasing decision. Highlight the positive reviews, by all means, since this validation is wonderful. But if a product is potentially destined to result in a return, it’s probably best that the customer is guided by a peer review and chooses something else.
The big thing missing from e-commerce stores as opposed to bricks and mortar outlets is the skill of the shop assistant. It’s not just about finding what you’re looking for. Good customer guidance will help your customer to discover the most potential in the product that they’ve chosen. This needs to come from you, both during and after the shopping experience. Offer possible alternatives alongside complementary products during the purchasing process. Follow up with informative content about product usage.
Returns data is important, not just for future buying decisions, but to prevent returns. If your data highlights a particular reason for return, such as fit or colour hue, direct post-sale content that’s focussed on that aspect of the product to customers to manage their expectations of the product. Your data will highlight any serial returners, so avoid promoting big price reductions to this part of the database. After all, it’s likely to cycle back to you! Don’t forget to use analysis of consumer return habits to evolve your e-commerce experience. We should all be constantly seeking to improve, and by doing so, resulting in customer satisfaction is the prevention of the ultimate return!