Returns are one of the biggest challenges for eCommerce companies of all sizes.
Handling reverse logistics is much more difficult than basic eCommerce order management and often requires decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis. Even if you eliminate the problems that fraudulent returns create, the process can quickly eat up your profit margin and consume time better spent elsewhere.
Fortunately, there are ways to take control of your returns and increase customer satisfaction at the same time. Consider making these changes to your online business to minimize future returns:
Provide better product photos. Adding multiple product photos for each item in your database, from a variety of angles, can help customers better visualize the product before they order it. If you’re selling clothing, always use human models to help buyers imagine how the item might fit on their own bodies. On smaller things like jewelry, taking a photo with a ruler or other common item like a coin will ensure that customers don’t exaggerate the size of the product in their mind’s eye.
Include detailed descriptions. Short descriptions can get your online store up faster, but adding detailed descriptions and measurements is time well invested. Online customers are notoriously bad at judging the size or quality of an item from visuals alone, so in addition to plenty of good product photos you’ll need to give an accurate description. You’ll be helping customers choose more appropriate items and they’ll also be less likely to return their order when they find it meets the precise description you provided.
Make returns painless. It might seem counter-intuitive, but making reverse logistics easier and faster actually can help minimize loss from returns. When customers know they need to return an item, they’ll often wait until the last minute because they expect a hassle. When you finally receive that item back, it may be out of season or expired, making it completely unsellable. Instead, make it easy to return items with offers like free return shipping and prompt, easy to reach customer service so you can get those items back into inventory quickly.
Ask for feedback on returns. Valid returns still happen – but don’t think of it as a failure on your part. Instead, use those returns to pump customers for information. Feedback can help you minimize common types of returns, such as for clothing that didn’t fit or items that were the wrong color. If you notice a particular return reason cropping up frequently, it’s time to make a change to how you organize your warehouse or label items in your eCommerce store. Online retailers like Old Navy encourage customers to describe the fit of their items so that future shoppers have an even better picture of what they’re getting to lessen clothing exchanges.
Taking control of your returns can have a very sudden and dramatic impact on your bottom line. Even if it seems like you’re spending a lot of time upfront, that’s time invested and money well spent.