Four Tips to Prevent Unnecessary Website Returns

Four Tips to Prevent Unnecessary Website Returns

Let’s face it, returns are part of the retail process and should be expected by businesses trading on the web.

However, data suggests online stores experience substantially higher return rates than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Tie this in with the restrictions enforced by the government for COVID-19, and it’s unlikely that your customers will be happy about leaving the house and returning an item that wasn’t as expected.

The good news? Unnecessary website returns can be avoided with these four tips:

1. Embrace customer content

Putting customer-generated content front-and-centre has several benefits. Your site automatically appears more trustworthy and customers can obtain information on your products based on real-life experiences.

Smaller retailers can be fearful of bad reviews, but it’s important to remember that a negative review isn’t necessarily an attack on the quality of your product. A negative review can act as a signpost that the product works best in a particular use case.

Sometimes a product’s true nature can only be uncovered through user experience. In clothing, a ‘size 10’ can beg the questions; Is it true to size? How does the material feel? Will it work with my body shape? Only customers who have tried and tested the product will have the information to answer these kinds of questions.

2. Provide the extra detail

Returns are to be expected when a product’s description is obscure, unclear or lacking important information. High quality photos and well-polished product descriptions go a long way in ensuring the customer is informed before clicking ‘add to basket’.

Product photos need to look professional and ideally, captured using a good quality camera. If it’s appropriate, you should consider taking some ‘candid’ photographs of your product by using a model or placing the item in a relevant environment. You could even go one step further and create a product demonstration video to really showcase what you’re selling.

Many ecommerce retailers rely on the manufacturer’s product notes. While these descriptions contain valuable information, you know your customers better than the manufacturer, so you need to think about whether they will understand it. Make sure your content complies with your tone of voice guidelines and meets the style of your brand.

3. Build trust with customer service

A customer who is confident in their purchase is less likely to return their product unnecessarily. That’s why some customers prefer to speak to the business directly to retrieve missing information about a product they are interested in purchasing.

If a customer has purchased a product and isn’t sure about something, it’s important that you have a customer service team on hand to provide them with aftercare and support. The team should be able to instil confidence in your customers, as well as understand any qualms they might have and provide an alternative, more suitable product from your range. If a customer believes you to be a trustworthy business, they will be less willing to abandon a product they’re on the fence about.

While a lot of returns are initiated because the customer changed their mind, a significant number of returns are caused by errors from the seller. To combat these issues, keep detailed, accurate and current records of your processes and when something goes wrong, you will be better able to find out where the error came from.

The best way to manage your returns in this area is to have a harmonised system in place. By connecting your stock, warehouse management, ecommerce and courier processes, your order records will be far easier to keep track of.

You can learn from your mistakes if you know everything about them. Keep track of your errors and respond to them – they will soon shrink in number.

In conclusion, you should make the most of your returns to promote better practices in your business. By keeping customers informed and happy, unnecessary returns will be kept to a minimum and your customers will come back time and time again.

For more help and advice during COVID-19, download our free ecommerce checklist.

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