COVID-19 has had an impact on all of our lives, but more specifically, it has significantly restructured the way businesses are conducted all over the world. The world has witnessed a shift away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores and toward online retailers. Returns will always be an annoyance for you, whether you're new to the e-commerce business industry or a seasoned pro. This article will explain why your customers may feel the need to return products and how to deal with it if it is affecting your business’s success.
Why do Customers Return Products?
Most experts agree that the best way to deal with a problem is to eliminate the root cause. As a result, before we dive into tips for reducing returns for your e-commerce business, we must first address and comprehend the underlying issue, i.e., why customers return products. The following are some of the most common reasons:
Customers Got the Wrong Item
Customers receiving incorrect items is uncommon in brick-and-mortar stores, but it happens quite frequently when shopping online. Even business titans like Amazon face this problem on a monthly basis. According to a survey, nearly 23% of all items returned are returned because the store shipped the wrong item. A minor blunder by one of your employees during the packing or shipping process, and you'll have a disgruntled customer demanding a refund for an unknown item.
If the customer contacts you and requests a return, you should consider yourself extremely fortunate. It is, in fact, illegal to charge a customer for an item that they did not purchase, so they have the right to keep the item even if you give them a refund.
The Product Looks Different
According to statistics, this factor accounts for nearly 22% of the total number of products returned. Several e-commerce retailers ruin their online businesses by employing the "bait and switch" strategy. They display flashy images stolen from the internet that look nothing like the actual product. Occasionally, the description on the website or in the catalog is insufficient.
You've probably seen a "what I ordered versus what I got" comparison on Facebook. When a customer purchases your product, they begin to form expectations. For example, after ordering a purse, the lady who called will start fantasizing about how beautiful they'll look with that purse.
After purchasing a pair of sneakers, it is natural for a customer to fantasize about how comfortable their future morning walks will be. The images and description of the product provided by the retailer help to set these expectations. If there is a mismatch between these expectations and reality, the customer will request a refund. And this will continue as long as that chasm remains unbridged.
The Size does not Fit the Customer
Product size is another factor that contributes to online product returns, particularly in the clothing, fashion, and footwear industries. Unfit shoes are useless to the buyer, and clothes that are the wrong size are a waste of money. What else is a customer going to do with a pair of dress shoes that are too big or a skirt that is too small than request a return?
According to a recent survey, 19% of customers have begun ordering multiple variations of a product on purpose. They try on everything, keep the size that fits them best, and return the rest.
Wardrobing and Fraud
Not all customers who return their products are guilty. Wardrobing occurs when a customer purchases an item only to return it after using it for a short period of time. If you haven't encountered this fraudulent practice yet, here's a firsthand account from an online retailer. A woman requested the return of a bright red dress she had purchased a few days before, claiming that it did not fit her. When the retailer received the product, he noticed something odd. She'd scissored the hem of the inner lining to make it a little looser.
Many people believe it is acceptable and fair to purchase a jacket or a pair of shoes for a special occasion and then request a return. You might come across someone who purchased a tie and a suit for a job interview and no longer requires them.
Even if the customers believe this is a legal practice, it is unethical and immoral to take advantage of the company's return and refund policy.
Why is Minimizing Returns Important
Because the entire return process can have a negative impact on the retailer's business, reducing the rate of return is necessary and important. You can increase your sales by implementing smart checkout strategies, but if returns are high, they are useless.
In terms of cost, it can eat up a sizable portion of the budget. The retailer must spend a significant amount of money on labor, shipping, warehousing, and restocking. Furthermore, if the product is broken or damaged, the company will be forced to spend money repairing it. If the damage is irreparable, the retailer must discard the product, and all money spent on that particular item is lost.
Furthermore, there is always the risk of losing a customer, particularly if a member of your customer service department fails to handle the situation properly. On top of all the money you've already squandered, the last thing you need is to permanently lose a loyal customer to your competitor.
According to one study, 57 percent of retailers believe that product returns disrupt and annoy their day-to-day operations. To deal with the financial setbacks, 20% had to raise the prices of their products.
Helpful Initiatives to Minimize Returns
Now that you understand why minimizing returns is so important, you may be wondering how to do it. There's no need to worry because we've got you covered. Here are some tried-and-true initiatives that can have a significant impact on lowering returns:
An Accurate Description of the Product
Writing an accurate product description may take some of your valuable time, but trust us when we say it will save you time, money, and customers in the future.
The additional benefit that brick-and-mortar stores provide is that the products can be physically touched and tried on. However, if clear, high-resolution images taken from various angles with a zoom-in option are available, along with a detailed, meticulous description, it can have a significant impact. Some businesses also include a video of their product as well as 3-D images.
If you did not take the photos or write the description yourself, review and proofread them before uploading them. This assists in bridging the gap between the customer's expectations and reality, which is critical in reducing product returns.
Using Sizing Charts
This tip is for online retailers who receive a high volume of returns due to size issues. Using detailed, self-explanatory sizing charts can be extremely beneficial. Sizes can differ from company to company, and the best way to deal with this is to provide a brand-specific sizing chart. If your eCommerce business isn't brand new, you'll already have some customer feedback on your sizing information. Take this into consideration as well in order to make shopping easier for your prospective customers.
Following these steps can help you sell more products, generate more traffic to your website, and reduce your return rate significantly. Many customers who purchase rings online rarely get the correct size the first time. Including a size chart on your website can be a game-changer.
Dealing with Wardrobing
You cannot afford to let fraudsters cripple your business and waste your time, money, and efforts. However, you cannot impose strict return policies because this will have a negative impact on your sales.
Certain strategies can assist you in dealing with wardrobing by reducing the frequency of returned products. For example, if you place the tags on the outside of clothes or shoes, where they can be seen, the fraudsters will be unable to wear or use your products for parties, interviews, or special occasions.
You can also create a separate policy for repeat offenders by keeping track of all previously returned products. And the reasons given and then cross-checking every future request. Most of the time, it is not difficult to determine whether a customer has used a product or not. Request pictures of the product from the customer, and if you notice any wrinkles, stains, or broken seals, decline the return request.
Implementing an Exchange Policy
Another option for dealing with the alarmingly high return rates is to implement an exchange policy rather than providing a refund. You will be able to motivate your customers to shop with you again, capture revenue, and compensate for any losses by offering an exchange in this manner. Furthermore, because you won't be accommodating the cheats with a refund, this will help with wardrobing.
A survey conducted in 2018 found that 57 percent of customers don't mind an exchange, while 16 percent might switch to a different retailer. However, as long as you have an easy-to-use exchange process and a friendly customer service department, you'll keep your customers happy and loyal to you.
Although it may appear to be an impossible task, avoiding sending the incorrect item can make or break your eCommerce business. Make an effort to complete each order correctly and without errors.
A customer may be tempted to return a recently purchased product for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, the requests are reasonable, and the customer is entitled to a refund. But occasionally, as in the case of wardrobing, the shopper has malicious intent.
Whatever the reason, an increased return rate is bad for business, whether you're a small-scale retailer or a business magnate. It can significantly reduce your profit margins and cause your customers to shop elsewhere.
The best way to reduce the rate of product returns is to follow the research-based tips and initiatives provided here or to consult with an experienced eCommerce development company like iGlobe Solutions. We benefit both the company and its customers and save both parties time and money.