Staying ahead of market trends and identifying untapped opportunities is crucial to running a sustainable business. However, to be truly effective requires tapping into difficult-to-access...
Here’s what we’ll be covering:
eCommerce returns rate trends
A really interesting figure to compare, is the return rate for brick-and-mortar stores at just 8.9%, compared to the 30% for online. This can be even higher (40%) for fashion and apparel items. Often, customers will buy more than one size to get the right fit and return the ones that aren’t right. Here are some of the other factors leading to product returns:
- The items are damaged (20%)
- It looks different in real life (22%)
- A different product is delivered (23%)
But how can online retailers re-create the product experience that consumers get when in a physical store? Ultimately, it all comes down to the quality of your product data, digital assets and online product page.
Let’s start talking about prevention rather than cure i.e., the importance of quality control. Here are some key areas you can focus on if you want to reduce your return rates.
So how can you reduce product return rates?
Some eCommerce businesses have relatively relaxed returns policies. Think free returns and easy processes like courier collection or designated drop-off sites. As a result, some customers may be inclined to make unnecessary purchases because they can “send the other one back”. I mean you’d do the same in a fitting room, right?
However, if you give your customers all the information they need, you can reduce uncertainty and increase conversions. As well as detailed product descriptions, here are some of the other things you should provide to reduce the number of returns you have to deal with:
Sizing (especially crucial for fashion and apparel):
Give the customer confidence in their purchase with size guides and comparison tools. A really good example of an online retailer doing this is ASOS. They have a tool that tells you the percentage of people of your size who bought the item and didn’t return it. You should also consider including sizing charts so customers can choose exactly the right size.
Dimensions (especially important for homewares):
Does it come already assembled in its final size? Does it come packed in a smaller box that will make it easy to get up the stairs or in the lift? Customers need to know these details, so make sure you’re providing them. In other words, they need to know if the wardrobe will fit in the bedroom and if it will make it up the stairs!
Many people won’t buy something if it isn’t easy iron, for instance. Equally, if a garment is “dry-clean” only and the shopper doesn’t realize until it’s arrived, a return is more likely. In addition, care instructions are a great way of encouraging people to keep products longer. An important factor to highlight at a time when sustainability is a key concern for a lot of customers.
High-quality product imagery:
Good product imagery gives your customers a full view of the product. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words! Make sure you’re giving customers the ability to zoom in as well as 3D and 360 views. Product pages offering these functionalities can generate conversion rates 40% higher than those without.
When choosing which images to include on your product pages, you need to try and replicate the in-store experience. They should provide answers to any questions the customer might have. For instance, it might be the texture of a fabric or the grain of a wooden piece of furniture.
Video is a must because they bring your products to life. You can show your customers how a product should be used or worn. This will help them visualize what it’d be like to own the product, and it’ll also boost confidence. From an SEO perspective, it’s classed as “premium content” so listings with video will be prioritized in SERPs.
Reviews act as real life assurance on the accuracy of your product descriptions (or not, if the case may be). It gives your customers the opportunity to gain insights from like-minded shoppers, especially if you include things like their age and gender. This will help your customers build a more personal relationship with your products. It also means they can make informed decisions based on real opinions, rather than being reliant on your marketing copy.
Consider getting in touch with customers post-purchase to ask them to leave a review of the products they ordered. This will also work wonders for your SEO – user-generated content is considered an important ranking factor, so make the most of it! Another valuable exercise is regularly analysing reviews and tweaking product copy as a result. This will help in making sure you’re truly representing your products, and reduce the chance of negative reviews.
Informed staff = informed shoppers
Providing a personal touchpoint is a great opportunity to build strong relationships with your customers. It’s also important to give customers the chance to ask any questions they might have before they commit to a purchase. Here are some of the things you need to do to make sure you’re delivering a top-notch customer experience:
- Provide your staff – in-store and online – with complete and accurate product information. In turn, they’ll be able to keep your customers informed. Easy access to information will also make this process much more efficient and cost-effective.
- Having an informative and automated customer service function is useful for new and existing customers. Live Chat, either operated by humans or AI, is underpinned by excellent product information.
- This extends to your social channels. Make sure whoever is manning your brands DMs is as informed as possible to make sure your customers are receiving the best experience across all touch points.
Master product data quality management
In an ideal world, people would always purchase the right product and never have to return it. But, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. People usually return items because there was something they didn’t know, be that the size or its appearance in real life. Therefore, ensuring you have top-quality product data is the key to unlocking lower product returns.
All in all, you need to give customers all the knowledge they need to buy with confidence. This can be done through your sales team, your reviews, and most importantly your product information and digital assets.
PIM platforms like Pimberly enable you to master product data quality management processes. As such, you know products will never be released with missing or incorrect details. The integrated digital asset management (DAM) system also gives you the power to get the most from all your images and videos.
Need to make changes or update product details? No problem! Bulk updates enable you to do this in a matter of minutes and changes reflect in real-time across all sales channels. Overall, PIM gives you all the tools and capabilities to deliver the most accurate and up-to-date product information.
Ultimately, the more accurate the product information, the fewer product returns you’ll have to deal with!