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Ecommerce Return Rates: Here’s How to Reduce Returns

Selling more products is not your only means for increasing profits (though it is a good strategy!). Making sure the products that leave your warehouse don’t make their way back to you is one surefire way to make more money. Returns have always been a black mark on retailers. Unfortunately, ecommerce sites are being hit harder than ever, according to the National Retail Federation, with more than $260 billion in merchandise making its way back to retailers last year.

While online sales may be booming, so are returns on products sold there. Retailers can expect to see returns as high as 30% (even higher for clothing outlets), and this is causing some real strain for businesses working with tight profit margins. This can leave online retailers scrambling to find ways to reduce product returns.

Read on for a few simple strategies that you can implement right now that will help you build a better rapport with your online customers, and keep them coming back for more (instead of returning what they have already bought):

The Benefits of Establishing a Loose Return Policy

It may seem counterproductive to make it too easy for customers to return merchandise, but here are the facts:

  • 82% of online customers never return to your site if you make it too difficult to return unwanted items. Customers need to feel confident that they won’t lose out on a transaction if they don’t like the item once it arrives at their door.
  • The longer the return window, the less likely a customer will actually send back the merchandise. Extending your return policy to 45-90 days will help decrease returns for several reasons. First, the longer a customer keeps an item, the more attached they become to it, and if you take away the urgency to return something quickly, the odds are good they will forget or simply decide to keep the item after all.
  • Most returns are the retailers’ fault, not the customers’. Yes, there are buyers who don’t have a good reason for returning product, but in most cases, returns are spurred by the retailer. Maybe your website did not offer a clear view of the items; sizing was off; colors didn’t match expectations (or the shades shown on the website); or poor packaging resulted in damage. These are all things that can be avoided with the right strategy, thus lowering your overall return rate.

Dramatically Reduce Returns by Making Your Website Customer Centric

Never underestimate the power of a well-crafted website when it comes to reducing return costs. A main reason people are disappointed with their purchase is because the item that arrives at their doorstep does not resemble the one ordered. Use your website to better showcase your products so that all the customer’s questions are answered prior to clicking the buy button. This includes:

  • Optimizing those product descriptions. Never use a manufacturer’s product description for your online catalog. They simply don’t offer the kind of insight customers are looking for. Customers are tactile beings. They need to see and feel a product to really fall in love with it. The right product description can help them “see and feel” your products without having it in hand.
  • Using plenty of pictures. The clearer the pictures you can provide for each product, the better. Customers who can see every angle of the product before buying are much less likely to be disappointed when it arrives.
  • Being specific. Clarity is important when it comes to buyer satisfaction in the online shopping world. Be sure that your website clearly shows the color, size, material, dimensions, etc. of every product. Be sure that color swatches online match the real colors used in products and be sure to have clear and concise sizing charts available. ASOS, a leading online retailer in Britain, managed to figure out a perfect way to do this. They use an app to personalize product sizing charts using customers’ previous purchases as a guide. This ensures that every piece of clothing fits perfectly with every order. The result: a dramatic decrease in their return rate.
  • Adding plenty of buying tips. Whether you are offering sizing tips or ideas on using certain products, offering as much help and guidance as possible will help customers feel attached to your products, even before they buy them.
  • Offering plenty of help. Avoiding returns starts with helping customers feel cared for. This can only be accomplished with a stellar customer service team. Be sure to offer plenty of help for customers to use including video chat; text chat and a phone number to call 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.

Re-Evaluate Your Shipping Procedures

The fact is that returns seldom have anything to do with customer fickleness. In most cases, buyers are unhappy due to a problem with the product itself. Maybe the shade of the blouse didn’t match the color wheel shown online, or the item didn’t fit correctly. Or maybe that beautiful blouse came wrinkled due to improper packing, or the box was smashed in transit, breaking the item.

Being on the lookout for shipping problems that can be rectified is one of the fastest and easiest ways to lower return rates. Any time you notice an uptick in returns, looks closely to see why. When products are continuously returned for a specific reason (like breakage), the problem may lie within your shipping department.

Reshape Your Strategy with Pirate Labs

Too many online retailers simply accept a high return rate without ever really doing much to rectify the situation. There is no reason to lose money due to a high return rate. There are plenty of things you can do to ensure that every product that leaves your warehouse will be adored by the customer who bought it. At Pirate Labs we focus solely on ecommerce website development and how we can improve customer experiences. We can help you build a better online presence and increase your profits by decreasing the amount of product that is returned after purchase.

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