After operating an online store for a while, you could occasionally experience difficulties with a greater than normal rate of product returns. The largest and most common challenge faced by the majority of eCommerce firms is product returns. A research stated that it was projected that about one-third of all products bought by consumers worldwide would be returned by 2020. More than 600 million things were returned to the stores last year, given that there were over 2 billion shoppers.
It goes without saying that product returns cause business owners a great deal of stress and pressure to raise their pricing in order to cover the increased expenses. Naturally, though, that isn’t a long-term viable tactic. Optimizing the customer experience is one of the finest methods to implement a more effective return policy for your organization.
Take a stroll through some of the fundamental ideas around eCommerce product returns in this post to get an idea of what we mean when we say that.
- First, let’s ascertain the company expense associated with product returns.
- Moving on, let’s explore why people return items
- 15 best practices for your eCommerce returns and refunds
- How improved product information can minimize returns of merchandise
- The COVID impact on eCommerce returns
- What is the impact of returns on customer loyalty?
First, let’s ascertain the company expense associated with product returns.
Businesses can hardly afford to offer no return policy at all, as an eCommerce store’s return policy influences a customer’s decision to purchase. In a survey, almost 70% of consumer participants said that the store’s return policy is important to them when making a purchase, and 59% said they wouldn’t shop there if there was a cost associated with returns. Furthermore, half of the respondents disclosed that they frequently give up on a purchase since the return policy is either nonexistent or has restrictions.
Reducing the customer’s desire to return is a better method than restricting their ability to return in order to resolve this problem. The ability for clients to return merchandise is a business’s strength, therefore using the aforementioned technique can help you better understand their attitude and enhance their shopping experience as a whole.
Moving on, let’s explore why people return items
Understanding the reasons behind a customer’s decision to return a product is essential before attempting to devise a successful business plan for product returns.
Three primary causes account for product returns:
- Due to fit: Either the incorrect size was ordered, or the product’s fit didn’t suit them.
- Reality vs. expectations: Neither the website’s images nor the thing that was ordered lived up to expectations.
- Damaged goods: Upon arrival, the merchandise was harmed.
According to a poll, 33% of customers return products because they didn’t match the photographs they were given, and 65% of customers return items because they were the wrong size. Another growing problem is the number of people who purchase products only to return them. 43% of millennials and 46% of Gen Z customers place larger orders than they truly require or want and return the merchandise as a result.
As universal as this tendency may appear, it varies from industry to industry. The situation described above does not occur while purchasing common household items like coffee, flour, sugar, etc. The apparel industry is where it’s most common; according to 66% of customers, they order more stuff than they intend to keep.
Purchasing clothing from physical retail establishments has grown more challenging, particularly after the pandemic. As a result, customers are ordering various sizes from eCommerce stores and returning the items that don’t fit. For business owners, it’s a nightmare come true, but convenient for them!
Thus, as a business owner, how can you make sure that your company has the fewest possible product returns? What’s more, are you even able to take action? Experts agree that you can, and they recommend the following 15 very effective tips as tools to help you get there.
15 best practices for your eCommerce returns and refunds
Here’s a list of 15 strategies to reduce returns and refund requests for your online store.
Dynamic And Fitting Size Chart
Make sure the size instructions you publish on your website are current, simple to use, and available on both desktop and mobile devices. Customers can be certain that they aren’t inadvertently ordering the incorrect size in this method.
Furthermore, fitting tools are available, such as a little slider that appears above the object to demonstrate customers how the item fits them. A virtual room planner that illustrates how the furniture blends in with the surroundings would be a wise tactic. Customers will be discouraged from ordering several sizes of the same product and a significant portion of size or fitting-based returns will be eliminated with the introduction of suitable fitting equipment.
Request and Accomplishment Evaluations
Provide a user-friendly procedure that motivates clients to post reviews for the goods or services you offer. You might provide a customer with a freebie, a 10% discount off their subsequent purchase, or a cashback or scratch card in exchange for their review.
This will motivate your clients to write reviews and assist you in figuring out what problems individuals are having with your product. Recall that the client is always right! Put into practice the suggestions that your customers have appropriately made in their reviews. It has been found that products with customer reviews have a 20.3% reduced return rate.
Provide The Greatest Client Care
You may avoid consumers becoming irate and returning the goods because they couldn’t figure out how to use it or make adjustments they could have done on their own by making it simple for them to contact you with questions or concerns.
Try using live chat or instant messaging in addition to the more conventional ways of calling, chatting, and emailing customers. These platforms offer a direct and immediate connection. It is possible to avoid a significant portion of returns by swiftly responding to consumer inquiries.
4.Fourth, doing it correctly the first time
23% of customers claim that they returned a product because they received the incorrect one. Even though this is a problem that almost every eCommerce company encounters occasionally, a sizable portion of returns can be avoided by increasing order fulfillment.
Keeping track of your trackers and post-it notes is not an effective method. For as little as $13 per month, you can find an effective automated solution. Better packing, delivery, and customer service will result from this. It goes without saying that all of this will lower the quantity of returns brought on by incorrect orders and other supply chain errors.
Give Priority to Packaging
Although packing varies from item to item, as a general rule you should consider the potential path your product may travel and pack it accordingly before packaging. Twenty percent of customers return merchandise due to orders that arrive broken or damaged.
When packing fragile objects, don’t be afraid to use double-lined boxes or an additional layer of bubble wrap. Most packages receive rough handling and are piled under other boxes. Therefore, unless it’s a present, clearly mark your goods with what’s inside and include storage instructions in case your packages arrive later than expected at the customer.
You must tell your courier service provider if your product arrives damaged, even after you have taken all the necessary precautions to safeguard it. You should start the process of switching delivery providers if the service provider consistently causes damage to your items when they arrive.
Examine Refunds And Adjust
If you haven’t already, enter your returns into an excel spreadsheet. Keep track of all of your returns and the reasons behind them for a month. Following this, you can examine the data and determine what needs to be changed.
Here’s an illustration of the kind of analysis you could perform depending on the return’s cause:
Consumers returning merchandise because they changed their minds: You can’t stop this from happening, but if it’s happening regularly, you should reevaluate your target market and concentrate on retaining clients (those who are less inclined to return merchandise).
Received the wrong order or size—This is a packing, sending, and choosing issue. To do this, attempt to assess every link in your supply chain and identify the precise point at which issues arose.
Discourage Repeat offenders
According to research, 30% of buyers deliberately buy more than they need to because they are aware that the business offers a complete refund and a liberal return policy. Comparably, 19% of buyers buy many sizes of comparable models of the product so they may make a decision after it arrives.
A liberal return policy is something that many customers take advantage of. They place an order for an item (usually apparel), use it or wear it once, and then return it with the request for a complete refund. If you didn’t know, this may be quite expensive for your company!
The most effective approach for this is to find these regular return customers among your clientele. Keep an eye on their return patterns so that, once you have enough information, you may warn them or prevent them from buying your products in the future. It is advisable to notify your customers via email or the website itself that the client base is actively watched for such activities prior to implementing such a drastic measure.
Send a Message to Get Through
Be an email whiz and utilize software that notifies customers by email as soon as they place an order. Once the order has been verified on your end, send the customer a confirmation. Don’t be afraid to include further details about the product’s specifications and place of origin.
Before the goods is shipped, it is best to include a concise description and inform the customer of the expected delivery time as well as the cancellation/amendment policy. Provide links to your contact details, live chat support, and instant messaging so that customers can easily get in touch with you in the event that they decide to alter their minds.
The emails you send will remind customers of their parcel to make sure this is truly what they want and avoid returns later. Most customers forget about their orders once they’ve checked out and paid for the item.
Obtain An Extended Return Policy
Although it might initially seem counterproductive, research indicates that the majority of returns occur when a company offers a “30-day or less” return policy. Increase the number of days the customer has to return the item by two or three times to cut down on returns. In this manner, the need to return quickly is eliminated.
Customers are more likely to grow connected to the item or just forget about it if the number of days is increased. In this manner, you can decrease the quantity of returns and increase the likelihood that the client will be truthful with you regarding the cause for the return. Customers usually fill in any reason to complete the return before they are no longer eligible in a shorter amount of time.
The Best Experience Is Even With Returns
Every consumer who has a smooth return procedure remembers a brand or company. You will undoubtedly receive returns from your consumers even if you follow every tip there is for getting rid of returns. In such a case, concentrate on making the return procedure enjoyable and easy rather than wasting time worrying about how to avoid receiving any returns! Keep track of your phone number and notify clients about their orders, returns, credits to the store, and refunds. All of these will raise the likelihood that you will gain a devoted client who will stick with you rather than your rival.
Encourage Exchange Rather Than Return
According to research, 57% of customers replace the item they bought, while only 16% return it and shop at a different store to get the same item. You can be encouraging the customer to shop at another store if you make them wait for their return.
Even though the customer is returning your product, remember that a poor return policy may drive them away and cost you a potential long-term customer. There is a potential devoted client at risk, so do all in your power to ensure a smooth return travel.
Divide And Organize Your Clientele
You may make smarter decisions by identifying trends, behaviors, and other indicators by segmenting your consumer base. As an illustration, let’s say you’re running a campaign that includes a 20% discount on a specific product line. You run the risk of receiving more returns if you send it to everyone.
Send it to those who are less inclined to return the item instead, and you’ll avoid having to deal with laborious returns. Before employing this method, much more sectioning and segregation must be completed. We acknowledge that at first, this may seem like a laborious and difficult procedure, but once you’ve figured out how to segment your database, delivering promotions to the appropriate customers will make it much easier to market your company.
Test Emails Driven by Data
Once your customer segregation efforts are underway, you may determine which goods may provide issues and which consumers are most likely to send them back. The best course of action at this point is to write information about the possibly defective product and send it to the prospective returner.
Send the customer an email requesting them to look at the content you’ve generated on wearing this dress or how celebrities have styled it, for example, if you’ve observed through customer reviews that the fit of the satin dress may be a reason for return. This will decrease the likelihood of a product return and reinforce the customer’s confidence.
Interpretation and Integration
A persistent focus on data and frequent experimentation are necessary for the rigorous and ongoing process of preventing returns. You must continue to examine and comprehend the feedback loop. Organizing frequent meetings with your operations and marketing teams will help you better evaluate customer and product returns and identify strategies for optimizing them. To assist in identifying the problems trends, product design, logistics, and content distribution, gather as much information as you can about your customers.
See Returns as a Chance
Consider returns as a chance to strengthen your bond with the consumer rather than as a loss. Instead of just issuing a refund, take use of this opportunity to initiate contact via email or SMS. Ask the customer why they are returning the purchase and keep it brief. You may recommend a product or provide a coupon. Reconnecting with your return customers helps to strengthen their bond with the brand.
How improved product information can minimize returns of merchandise
It can be extremely frustrating for a customer to receive a product that is not what they expected after waiting weeks for it. The easiest way to combat this is to make sure the product description is comprehensive. The customer knows exactly what they are ordering and what to expect in this way.
You can use the following techniques to make your product descriptions better:
- Make a compelling headline that will attract the attention of your target audience.
- Underneath the picture, type a succinct description of the product that highlights its unique qualities. Instead of just stating the features of the product, present it as a solution.
- Enumerate the benefits of the product in bullet points.
- To round it off, include credibility and social proof. The buyer feels more assured and confident about the thing he is buying in this way.
- Make a note of the aspects of the product that your previous consumers found appealing and then emphasize those aspects in your description.
The COVID impact on eCommerce returns
Leading shipping and courier company DHL reported that they saw a 20% drop in weekly return volumes at the beginning of the pandemic. Customers wanted to avoid the hassle of returning merchandise during the epidemic, which is why there was a decline.
Why? Because the consumer would have to leave their home and go to the nearest courier center in order to return a goods, which could be dangerous given that everyone was told to stay at home and be under lockdown.
Prior to the pandemic, businesses needed four to five days to record a return; following the outbreak, that time has increased to eight days.
What is the impact of returns on customer loyalty?
Retailers must contend with high client expectations regardless of the kind of refund they issue. Most customers want a return within 30 days after purchase, whether it’s in the form of a gift card or a full refund.
Should a customer’s return be unexpectedly delayed, you will have given them the worst possible shopping experience and would face significant challenges in gaining repeat business. Nonetheless, 92% of return customers will make additional purchases if you give them a flawless return experience. Without a doubt, this will raise client lifetime value.
By putting these 15 tried-and-true tactics into practice, you can drastically lower e-commerce returns in 2024, guaranteeing a happier clientele and an easier online buying experience. Utilize these practical strategies to streamline your operations and increase overall client happiness.
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So why are you being so circumspect?