This could stir hesitancy in would-be customers, who might prefer the old brick and mortar stores which guarantee that what you see is what you get.
Indeed, ecommerce is renowned for multiple new and exciting features, through which online stores have made customers accustomed to benefits including convenience and satisfaction. However, when products are returned they not only take away the opportunity of earning a profit by the sellers but also steal the satisfaction customers anticipate.
The grim reality behind that façade of seamless and fast-tracked return and refund is that returns cause a major headache for online businesses. Whether you’re just starting out or been in business for years, returns mean time and energy spent processing additional (unexpected) packages, issuing refunds and trying to keep the process positive for the customer so that they don’t run off to one of your competitors as soon as they get their refund.
Product return has inadvertently become a monstrous liability that takes money out of the ecommerce ecosystem. Good news is that there are factors and elements, which when worked upon can stem this negative trend.
Though it is tough to estimate the actual loss of a marketplace since they just act a mediator between sellers and customers here’s an estimation of some types of losses the marketplace has to deal with when products are returned: Loss of commission charged on every sold item because the product was returned; Loss of customer trust and negative impact on customer satisfaction score; Increased complaints due to negligence of logistic partner while handling return shipment and the failed opportunity of driving sales through returning customers and referral sales
Some experts believe that return rates can be reversed if stakeholders focus on reasons why returns occur. And here are a few reasons why customers return products: Low Quality or Misleading Images – 22% of all returns occur because the product looks different in real life, which is an issue that arises due to low-quality images. Low-quality images make it tough for customers to identify the correct product. Desperate sellers often use low-quality images to push their fake or imitated products. Such shady practices have led to marketplaces establishing strict internal regulation for product images.
Ask your customers for reviews and reward them for it: You should develop a core process to encourage customers to leave a review of your product or service. Offer rewards where possible, like 10% of their next order. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that online reviews impact the buying decisions of over 93% of customers, meaning reviews will both increase your sales and reduce your eCommerce returns. This will also help you identify any issues or problems people are having with the product and identify areas of misunderstanding so you can adjust your marketing, listings or emails as a result.
Become a pioneer of outstanding customer service: Provide easy access touchpoints for customers to reach out with a product question or issue. This prevents them from getting frustrated and returning the product because they don’t know how it works or think it’s broken. Alongside the traditional methods of phone and email, consider introducing live chat or instant messaging.
Get every order right, first time: Sending the wrong item to a customer is an issue every business might deal with at one point in time. With 23% of people citing a wrong item as the reason for their return, improving your order fulfilment is a good place to start to reduce ecommerce returns.
Prioritise your packaging: Depending on what you sell, your packaging considerations will be different per item. A general rule of thumb is to envision the journey your item/s will take and base your packaging decisions on that. Products that arrive broken or damaged, because of insufficient packaging, are another major reason for returns (around 20% of customers report it as their main return reason).
For fragile items, don’t shy away from bubble wrap and double or triple lined boxes – your parcels are likely to be thrown around, dropped or stacked underneath heavier products.
Analyse. Adapt. Overcome: Every return you process needs to be recorded for evaluation. If you’ve never recorded returns before, do so for a month in an Excel spreadsheet with the return reason clearly highlighted. When the month is over, you can then start to analyse the figures and get some ideas on what needs to be improved.
Depending on the reasons will depend on the changes you need to make. Some ideas include: Customers changed their mind; Wrong product or size was received – these highlights will allow you to evaluate each bit of the process and work out what isn’t operating correctly.