According to the Centre of Retail Research, UK retailers spend £60 billion a year sorting out returns. The main reasons why people return goods are:
- Incorrect item
- Correct item, but wrong size/colour
- Damaged item
- Reality vs expectation
So, what can you do to ensure you reduce the amount of returns for your ecommerce store?
Make sure every product listed has high quality images and detail rich descriptions.
Because purchasers are not able to physically touch, feel or see a product, it is so important to provide as much detail and description as possible. Together with quality, consistent product images and/or videos, this helps provide the purchaser with the information that they need.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) are a great way to provide purchasers with more information that doesn't clutter up the product description. Think of FAQs as a way to remove all potential barriers as to why a customer may decide not to buy from you.
Unlike Live chat or email, FAQs can be accessed immediately. Tap in to your existing customer data - what questions do customers frequently ask?
Implement size guides and fitting tools
The primary drawback of online shopping is not being able to try items on or physically see the product dimensions.
For clothing items, mention what size the model in the photos is wearing and what their measurements are.
Providing size guides and fitting tools helps reduce returns and improves conversions.
Ask your customers for reviews and reward them for it
User generated content and social proof is the new word-of mouth - people trust other people, even total strangers.
Reading a positive review provides an essential role in the purchase decision making process for online shoppers. It is also worth mentioning that positive reviews help with your SEO.
Ensure outstanding customer service
Just because you're not seeing customers face to face, don't neglect the importance of excellent customer service. Although the interactions are taking place online, humans thrive on connection and contact and focusing on exceeding your customer's expectations will pay dividends. The online market place is very crowded so ensuring positive interactions will make you stand out from the crowd.
Focus on quality control on your order process
Get the fundamentals spot on. Have processes and systems in place to negate the need for returns.
Quality control will pick up mole hills before they turn into mountains!
Prioritise your packaging
Packaging should protect your products and ensure that they don't arrive damaged in any way. Packaging should also provide the 'wow' factor as part of the users' experience.
Is your packaging as eco-friendly as it can be? Is your packaging on brand? Does your packaging provide an experience?
Implement a liberal return policy
Although this may feel counter-intuitive, having a liberal return policy removes a major barrier for purchasers and thus encourages them to purchase more. If customers feel that your return policy is simple and easy they will feel more confident to purchase items that they're perhaps not 100% sure about.
Promote exchanges instead of returns
A return equates to a customer's needs not being met. An exchange on the other hand means that the customer wants to continue a relationship with you.
Consider incentivising exchanges over returns and make the process as easy for the customer as possible.
It is much better for cashflow too to provide exchanges over refunds.
Communicate post purchase - educate about product, keep excitement high prior to receiving item
Keep the positive momentum going post purchase with a well thought out email flow. As well as the standard order/delivery updates, consider providing tips, case studies, cross-sells and so on.