As an online retailer, you’ll know the struggle of returns. They are time-consuming, costly and – to put it bluntly – annoying. Also, they significantly damage customer relationships, drastically decreasing profits up to the point your business is in real danger.
And while a good return management software diminishes these problems – you can try one here for free – it is still good to lower your return rate as far as possible. Because in the end, Returns Prevention is always more cost effective than handling them physically.
Here are the seven key steps to reduce returns for your eCommerce business:
1. Ensure Product Quality Lives Up to Expectations
When choosing products to sell, you’ll need to make sure they're up to the quality expected by your customers. This does not mean that you need to offer products of exceptional quality. But your products need to be as good as you promised they would be in your marketing efforts.
Sure, in advertising you’ll always try to make your product look as good as possible. But you should still stick with the truth. Because otherwise you might have a short-term increase in sales but end up with a loss if your customers are unsatisfied and return items.
2. High Quality Product Images, Videos & Descriptions
The next step is related to what your customers expect vs. what they get. Several high-resolution images on your website, that can be zoomed into and show the product from various angles, help shoppers decide whether the product is right for them.
The same is true for product descriptions, which should be as detailed as possible. This ensures customers have all the information they need to make the right purchase decision.
And where it makes sense, why not produce a video that shows the product in use? It doesn’t have to be expensive, but will help your customers understand the product better pre-purchase.
For after the purchase, why not create explainer videos showing how to set up or use the product? This is particularly useful for complex or highly technical products, where customers might get frustrated and send it back when they can’t get it to work properly.
3. Implement Detailed Size Guides & Fitting Tools
The biggest downside of online shopping is that you can’t try on a product or see how big it is etc. This is where an online fitting tool can help. Detailed size guides also aid the shopper finding the perfect size – avoiding a disappointed return afterwards.
This step is most obviously relevant for the fashion industry, where size related returns remain an issue. However, there are a lot of other sectors that benefit, for example virtual room planners for furniture retailers.
4. Encourage Product Reviews
Customer reviews are incredibly valuable. If they are positive, they will drive sales. But even if the review is negative, you can still learn something from it. For example, if you have made a minor change to one of your products you thought no one would notice. When you see customers criticise it in reviews, take immediate action and reverse the change.
In addition, shoppers sometimes include practical details in their review you forgot to mention in the product description. By reading reviews, potential buyers find out even more about the product and make an informed decision, reducing the risk of returns.
5. Provide Excellent Customer Service
While the previous steps have already ensured that shoppers find as much information on your product pages as possible, there will always be new and unexpected questions coming up.
This is why offering a great customer service 24/7 is so important. If your customers contact you easily via phone, email, live chat or any other means of communication, they ask their questions before they buy – avoiding unnecessary returns.
And if your customer service staff has access to a fully integrated CRM system, it’s even better. Then they will immediately know who the customer is and have all the relevant information to provide not only a good service, but an excellent one.
6. Optimise Your Pick, Pack and Despatch Processes
Unfortunately, a common reason for returns is not caused by the buyer being unhappy with what they ordered, but by the seller sending a completely wrong item.
Especially at hectic times like Christmas, online sellers often struggle to fulfil orders. If they rely on spreadsheets and post-it notes and handle their pick, pack and despatch processes as reactively without a clear strategy, mistakes are unavoidable.
The solution is simple: implementing a cloud ERP system that handles all orders from all channels in one place.
It will also help your pickers get orders right first time. No more need to key in orders manually, leading to small mistakes with big consequences. It’s all done automatically. Also, it will help your packers deliver customer experience that lives up to your values and their expectations. And it will do all that as efficiently as possible.
In short, a cloud ERP solution will allow you to optimise your pick, pack and despatch processes, avoid mistakes and therefore reduce returns.
7. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Packaging
It is not only important to deliver the right product, but delivering it in the right packaging. Products that arrive broken or damaged, because of insufficient packaging, are another major reason for returns.
If this is the case in your business, you should re-evaluate your packaging and try to improve it. This will also indicate to customers that you truly care about their orders and make an effort to protect them properly.
Returns Prevention Saves You Money…
… and all you need to do for it is follow the seven steps above! Not only will they help you reduce returns, but they will also make your customers happier and profits higher.
You should start right now – by implementing a cloud-based ERP solution to make sure you get your orders right every time. Our systen features refund management and returns analysis software, to help you prevent future returns.
Want to see for yourself? Simply try it now for free!