Of all the problems that online retailers can face, few are as frustrating as product returns. When customers return purchased products, it impacts the business in several ways. Financial implications easily come to mind. Sure, returns stop monetization. In addition, your business may incur losses if you offer free returns. If the goods have been returned due to damage, there will be additional costs for the removal of the product. Money aside, product returns can also be associated with diminished customer trust and loyalty, especially if handled poorly. Undoubtedly, it is necessary to reduce product returns.
The estimated percentage of products returned from online orders is 40%, which runs into the hundreds of billions of dollars. These figures cover all e-commerce sectors† Customers return goods for all kinds of reasons, but 65% of the time it is due to damage, wrong order delivery, the product seems different from the online description. A zero percent return rate is unrealistic, but it's entirely possible to reduce the frequency with which customers return sold items.
Here are 7 strategies that can help your business achieve higher returns:
COLLECT AND ANALYZE CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
The first strategy to reduce product returns is to determine why each product was returned directly from customers. After collecting the data, analyze it carefully to spot patterns. The resulting information should reveal a lot, from the most common reasons for returns to problematic customers who repeatedly return items.
OPEN COMMUNICATION CHANNELS WITH CUSTOMERS
Your customer support can help you reduce product returns. Live chats and voice calls to customers who plan to return an item can make all the difference. For example, a customer may return a product because they think a part is missing or broken, when in fact it isn't. Therefore, great customer support can guide the customer through the correct process of assembling the product, avoiding a return. Even if your intervention doesn't change the intent to return, the attentive service should help restore customer trust and loyalty.
IMPROVE PRODUCT DESCRIPTION AND INFORMATION:
22% of the customers is returning items because it does not match the expectations that pictures and descriptions see online. Optimizing product information may reduce inappropriate expectations about the item. Only upload high-resolution images and make sure the product description is accurate. Admittedly, augmented reality and 3D visualization can be costly to set up. However, it is a highly recommended means of presenting product information for companies that can bear the costs.
SEGMENTATION CAN REDUCE PRODUCT RETURNS
Using data from the analytics tools, you can identify customers who are most at risk of returning a product and then exclude them. For example, suppose you plan to discount 15% on some green shirts on St. Patrick's Day. Your data analysis reveals 5 customers who have returned shirts because they don't like green. Most likely, these 5 customers will return the St. Patrick's Day shirts for the same reason. So why not segment this small group and send the discount offer to the other customers? Data-driven segmentation will almost always reduce product returns.
IMPROVE YOUR DELIVERY PROCESS
If your customers continue to receive damaged or wrong goods, it's time to do something about your packaging, shipping and delivery. The business transaction does not end with payment. It ends with the delivery of the correct item in the best possible condition. Therefore, inspect your products carefully and wrap them with as much protective material as necessary. Use delivery tracking systems to improve the accuracy of your process. If you suspect there is a reason to change your delivery service, please do not hesitate to do so.
UPDATE YOUR PRODUCT RETURN POLICY
A liberal but crystal clear return policy gives the customer more confidence to buy from you. Patients 92% will continue to do business with you if the return process is smooth and easy. Extending the days on the returns window reduces customers' sense of urgency about returning a product. Spending more time on the item may change your mind about returning it. Also, consider offering store credit instead of cash back to discourage frequent returns and preserve revenue. This should reduce product returns by naughty customers.
IMPLEMENT CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
Finally, and most importantly, try to improve your services using all the customer feedback. More than 60% of returns are ultimately the fault of the retailer. That means you have to listen to what your customers are saying. Make sure all stakeholders in the business go back to the drawing board and fix the issues you identify.
In conclusion, one strategy may not be enough to reduce product returns. You may have to try different things until you get it right. But by applying as many of these strategies as possible, we are sure you will experience the reduction you are looking for.