“Prevention is better than cure.” – This applies to every single aspect of life, including business (and your e-commerce store’s returns).
$38 billion dollars! That was the value of this year’s Singles Day’s sale just from Alibaba Group, producing millions of parcels, but just how many of those come flying back?
With more online ordering comes more returns. In fact, 26% of all retailers say that the number of returns has risen over the last two years. Currently, reports show that e-commerce websites have a return rate as high as 33%!
Retailers blame serial returners, people who purchase a lot of stuff using bracketing (ie not sure of the fit, order the same item in three different sizes) knowing they would return most of the items anyway, and snap-and-send-backers, consumers who use items once for social media posts before returning the item.
Meanwhile, consumers blame the retailers, who offer free online returns, cyber discounts, and even try-before-you-buy promos.
No matter the cause, for both cost and sustainability reasons it is vital that we take proactive steps to reduce the volume of returns. Here’s what Click & Connect’s advise in improving return rates:
- No to False Advertising
Pictures speak a thousand words. However, 22% of returns are because of the mismatch between the picture and the product itself, 90% of consumers think the quality of the photo drives purchase behavior, and 91% of consumers want 360 viewing technology. So one way to reduce returns is to get your marketing team the right equipment!
- Size Does Matter
Standardizing size guidelines, providing comparison charts (EU to US as an example) and using user reference, Eg ‘This sizes small’ will also help your consumers choose the right size for them.
- The Devil is in the Detail
Technical details, key data, dimensions, features, etc, should always be included, it helps the shopper see what they are getting. Here’s how Home Depot does theirs:
- Tell us What you Think
Enabling customer reviews may also guide new users to make sure that the product is truly the right fit for them. A study from Boston University stated that positive reviews can decrease return rates and increase repeat purchases.
Honesty has and will always be the best policy. Attract customers with the quality of your products instead of taking advantage of the fact that they don’t have the touch-feel option when shopping online.
- Send What They Ordered
Wrongly shipped products make up a quarter of e-commerce.
An effective and efficient order management system, accessible packaging materials and e-commerce shipping solutions can prevent such returns. Get it right the first time, every time!
- Pre-Sale Service
Humans crave interaction.
Excellent communication always reduces unwanted complications. A reachable seller who can respond within minutes is more likely to avoid returns since shoppers can ask questions before they can place their orders.
- Detailed Return Policies
Why would I give them the option to return when that is exactly what I want to avoid?
According to Shopify, 83% of consumers read return policies before they make a purchase in order to avoid costly returns.
Allowing a longer period to return a product will help decrease the pressure for consumers to send the item back. I know, it is kind of counter-intuitive, but trust me, it works.
Free delivery and returns encourage 62% of consumers to purchase and 90% of consumers highly value an excellent and simple returns policy – you would be amazed just how many brands and retailers have a returns policy that can only be understood by a graduate from MIT.
- Crunch your data
It is definitely not the nicest thing to do on a Saturday afternoon. However, it is your greatest weapon. Understanding what gets returned most frequently, why, from where, on what days, at what times will help you develop a plan to avoid incremental returns. You can make adjustments to your products, delivery methods, customer service, or returns policies once you find out the reason. Make using your data a priority!
Online shopping continues to grow and grow fast, however without the right plans in place, you will likely see increased returns too – don’t be an Elvis, let’s get it right first time every time.
With a team of global experts and a deep understanding of their respective functions, Click & Connect (www.clickandconnect.co) provides expert management consulting services focused on your most critical business challenges and your largest opportunities.
Get in touch with us at email@example.com for an informal discussion.