Two recent experiences have highlighted that there are retailers who are still struggling with the returns process. It’s worth revisiting this subject to consider how to get ahead of the returns pain. We can start by reducing the number of returns. As with many things in life, returns pain may need ongoing experimental treatment before it completely recedes.
1. Give the most possible information that you can about your product
37% of returns pain comes from the product not fitting or the customer not liking it (ref, KPMG Omnichannel survey 2016). We can try to close this gap by providing greater detail about the product.
The more detailed your product information the more confident a customer can feel about the original purchase. So, details like dimensions, materials, weight, how to install it/ use it/ the obvious benefits/ the unexpected benefits of the product.
Product images are incredibly important, most retailers understand that customers want to see the product from multiple angles, take it another step. Customers also want the capacity to get close-up and personal and look at the fine detail of stitching or get an idea of context so, for fashion and footwear on body or maybe a virtual dressing room, for appliances installed, for homewares in a room.
Consider what additional information customers might want to know, how to care for the product, what it goes well with, what doesn't work with it. Consider too, what will it be like after 'x' period of time? A good time to highlight trade-in offers or after sales care and service too.
Social proof also really helps support customers making good decisions online. Others that have bought the product describing their experience, seeing products used and in use in a variety of different ways gives greater confidence in the choice. Encouraging those who have already bought to leave ratings and reviews on products builds out the depth of information on your product, some retailers offer a $/% off for a referral or for customers to earn points by sharing their experiences.
2. Fix returns pain by fixing returns reporting
Whether there is an online store or not in your business there is no reason to be reporting returns against the returning store rather than the originating store.
If store A has aggressive selling techniques and pushes customers to buy or over-buy then that store is likely to have a higher rate of return. It is also likely that customers will not want to go back to a store that has this kind of practice and so returns will go back to other stores in the network. If you are not reporting returns against the original sale store, it hides the problem. What’s the point of reporting anything if you don’t get some useful insight or actionable correction from it?
In the same way when we refund we go back to the original transaction and use that payment type, we must go back to the originating store and allocate the return against that stores sales.
3. Encourage customers to go back to store
If the customer bought online and can go into store then it’s a better potential outcome for both customer and retailer. For the retailer because it reduces the cost of return freight, although many retailers are reconsidering free returns policies after customer abuse.
A face to face interaction has a greater chance of being able to solve the customer’s problem, if something is not working as expected or doesn’t quite look like it did online hopefully store teams can resolve and keep the sale. If not, and the process in store is ‘easy’ then the customer will likely keep that retailer on their long-term shopping list.
If the customer has deliberately over ordered or it is your policy to encourage customers to buy two and return one then make it easy for the customer by putting the returns label into the parcel with the delivery.
95% of customers do not purchase again after a BAD returns experience.
If you are struggling to make the returns process work, get in touch, we would love to work with you to make this a key selling point in your business.
Image Credit Mike Petrucci
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