Returning products back to e-commerce stores is now the norm and with huge stores like Amazon providing free returns, customers are starting to look for this within smaller businesses too.
The issue now is that these returns are not cheap for these smaller e-commerce businesses and not offering the return feature could reduce your store’s credibility.
This means that to build a profitable e-commerce store, you will need to offer this return feature but find a way to reduce the number of customers using said feature.
Is this even possible? In this article, I will highlight 7 strong strategies you can use to do this so keep reading.
Why Customers Return Products
Returns are definitely expensive and in running an e-commerce store, it is impossible to completely avoid customers who do so. Your customers may have valid reasons for sending products.
To lower the chances of receiving return requests is to understand these reasons and then use them to your advantage.
So here are some reasons customers return products:
1.Your product does not match its description on your store: This occurs when the product your customer receives does not meet their expectations.
This is usually because they either misunderstood your descriptions or the product images look different from the product they get.
Since your store is online, customers are unable to physically see and analyse the products before they get it, so they are totally reliant on the product descriptions and images you give.
So if you do not do this well, your customers might feel cheated upon delivery and return your products.
2. They purchase to test, compare, and return: This process is actually very common amongst ecommerce customers with as much as 41% of ordering customers admitting they do so. It even has a name — bracketing.
They order similar products from your store and may even order from different stores at the same time to compare them and see which is better. They then return the products they do not like.
Doing this is the only way your customers can get around the uncertainty of ordering online.
This means that you should expect this to occur in your store and you should not view this as an entirely bad situation as this can actually increase customer loyalty.
But, to overcome the negative aspects of returns you can take control of the return process. I’ll get to how you can do that real soon.
3.The product does not fit: If you are an apparel store you will at a point get a product returned because it isn’t the right fit. Not all customers know their sizes and they may get confused with the metrics being used.
For instance, if you run an online store from Canada, you use different metrics from those in the U.S.A.
4.Poor quality of product delivered: This issue can lead to not only getting a product returned but can even damage your brand’s reputation.
When your customer receives a defective or low-quality product, it signals to them that you are not to be trusted and results in them returning said product and worse, leaving a bad review.
5.Receiving the wrong product: Due to human error perhaps from being overwhelmed by the number of orders or making an error in the shipping address, your customer may end up getting the wrong product.
Now armed with this info, you will need to create a game plan to reduce the rate of returns you get or at least reduce the costs attached to these returns.
In the next subheading, I will be sharing some solutions /techniques you can employ in your plans.
7 Techniques To Reduce Return Rate For Your Ecommerce
Provide very good product descriptions and images
Since your store is online, your customers don’t exactly know what they are buying, so they depend on you to provide detailed descriptions of whatever products you’re selling.
This means you have to put extra effort into creating clear yet concise copy for your products and invest in taking good-quality photos and videos.
For your copy:
- Ensure it is easy to understand.
- Focus on its major features and how they can benefit the consumer.
- Do not lie!! Make sure your description is as accurate as possible.
Basically, your description should be able to thoroughly explain what the product is, what it offers, and why consumers should opt for it.
For the image and video:
- Go easy on the editing. This does not mean you should not retouch your images, but do not overdo it.
The goal is to give your consumers a photograph as true to life as possible. By overediting, your consumers might not recognize the product when it gets delivered.
- Provide context. Create videos and pictures of a sample of your product in action in a real-life scenario.
This way your consumers have a semblance of understanding of what the product is intended for. You can also take pictures of the product next to other common items to provide them a sense of its size.
Take control of the return process by providing clear return policies
With the ever-increasing trend of huge online marketplaces and companies providing their customers with free product returns, more and more customers expect this treatment from all these stores.
It has even been shown that companies with affordable and simple return policies have higher customer loyalty than those who don’t.
Knowing this, you need to take control of your store’s return policies. Create an affordable yet reasonable policy on your products that covers damaged or defective goods, incorrect deliveries, and products that do not fit.
This way your customer knows their rights and expectations allowing them to purchase with confidence.
Ensure it is visible and can be easily accessed by your customers. You could place it in your product descriptions or create a dedicated page for it on your store website.
Improve your storage and delivery process
As an e-commerce entrepreneur, you need to have at the front of your mind that every time a product goes off for delivery, your brand image is at stake.
You should put effort into the logistics of your delivery. Things like packaging, shipping to the correct address, and delivering on time among others should be at the top of your list.
If you are a dropshipper, this may not affect you a lot, especially if you use a reliable supplier but, if you run a different online business model, you need to be at the top of your game for this.
Look at how your products are getting packaged; can they survive the potentially rough delivery process?
If your packaging is not good enough, your products will likely get damaged before they reach the consumer. You could use inflatable packaging to prevent your products from getting crushed.
Use a fulfillment center or distribution center
While it is possible to handle the warehousing and delivery logistics of your e-commerce store yourself, I would advise you to employ the services of a fulfillment center and a distribution center.
Their expertise in handling large amounts of deliveries means they have automated systems that ensure all processes go off without a hitch.
A company like Globallyfulfill is a perfect example of this. They provide warehousing and delivery services to e-commerce stores that deal with clothing and apparels.
The company has high tech solutions to issues that face apparel stores such as storage. Their smart warehousing process stores clothing in conditions optimal for them.
Provide the option of exchange instead of just returns
Consumers looking to return a product sometimes find another product they would rather have. You can take advantage of this by giving them a chance to exchange their returned product for one of equal value.
If the client is not thinking of swapping or did not mention another product they would prefer, you can also suggest it.
For instance, if a customer initially purchases a grey shirt but upon delivery discovers it does not fit the occasion they will be wearing it to and returns it, you could offer to swap it for another colour that could be the perfect match or instead provide other related products like shoes or ties.
Not only will the client be thankful for the idea and build customer loyalty, you also save yourself the loss of the refund.
Provide sizing charts
Selling clothing, shoes, and other apparel items from an e-commerce store can be challenging because your customer has to know their measurement which a lot don’t.
They buy based on estimates and return it when it doesn’t fit.
You can overcome this by encouraging your customers to measure themselves before purchasing, including sizing charts alongside reviews from previous customers.
The reviews usually include recommendations or comments that can help new customers find the right fit.
Get feedback from your customers
You need to understand why your customers are returning products before you even begin creating a strategy that works.
Doing this is not that hard. You can either engage these customers in a conversation through email or create a short and simple form they will fill out as part of the return process.
This form will ask why they chose to return the products and what could have been done better.
No matter how good your marketing strategy, website design, and customer service are, returns are an unavoidable part of being an e-commerce store owner but, that doesn’t mean you should keep losing money to refunds.
If you follow these 7 steps highlighted above you are more than likely to build a profitable ecommerce business.