Dealing with eCommerce returns is a tricky business. Return happens both before and after purchase. Your product return approach virtually distinguishes your store from the pack. It could yield a competitive edge while making a formidable profit in the process. Now, how to reduce Shopify product returns?
In 2020, consumer returns stood at $428 billion. The amount equals 10% of all retail sales. The National Retail Federation sums up the costs of the returns at $101 billion.
Why do eCommerce products return?
So, it is crucial that we understand what provokes returns from customers. Why do they send those products back? We can proceed to the next level after we clarify this burning question.
Studies indicate that only 9% of merchandise gets back to a brick-and-mortar store. On the contrary, about 20% of products return to online stores in general. What is responsible for this discrepancy?
Let’s further break down the statistics. The problem tends to rise from size, fit, style, etc. These dimensions drive 72% of fashion item returns. Real-life customer preferences prompt such a decision.
Other reasons include defects and “not as described”. These causes set off 10% of product returns.
Now, we are going to analyze them in 7 parameters —
- Small size — 30%
- Large size — 22%
- Changed my mind — 12%
- Style — 8%
- Defective — 5%
- Not as described — 5%
- Not specified — 18%
Extensive research on eCommerce returns has bundled up these factors.
So, which reasons prompt the online returns —
— Ordering the wrong product or size
— Shipped item damaged or faulty
— Shipping wrong product or size
— Late arrival of the product
— A substitute product invalidates the needs
— The customer feels no need for the merch anymore
— The description and the product quality wildly vary
— The item disappoints the customer’s expectations
— Gift items are frequently returned
— Better deals on the same product elsewhere
— A fraudulent purchase
— A wardrobing customer
Why do returned products impact Shopify brands?
Consumers flood the social outlets upon purchasing a new item or a trendy product. They share their opinions, experiences, and often user reviews. Online stores encourage them to do it as well.
It could sway untapped public attention to the store’s favor. Or a bad reputation could destroy a Shopify shop within moments. Therefore, these customer opinions might make or break you.
The ever-increasing traffic on Facebook and Instagram generates unprecedented sales. Thus it brings higher revenue for your store. However, a negative comment on problematic items or return experiences develops a harmful brand image.
What are the initial damages of a product return —
- The sale goes down the drain along with a dissatisfied customer.
- Often store owners offer free shipping to clinch a deal. These promotions acquaint the shop to the customers. Your investment is wasted if the buyer returns the product. Then, you are only left with piled-up transportation costs.
- Returned items must be reorganized in the proper category. Following primary quality inspection, it either goes to resale or liquidation. Either way, the product might bring in lesser value in comparison to the first time.
- Online sellers use a huge workflow chain. It takes time for a product to enter and exit it. Returned products further strain the work pressure on manual hands.
Thus your eCommerce store wears out vital time and effort in dealing with returns. Apart from store discredits, it hurts your inventory, cash flow, and workforce efficiency.
How to reduce Shopify product returns in 10 steps?
ThemeIM Shopify experts outline a 10-point guideline for online stores. It describes the insanely effective methods to curtail product returns.
1. Draw rich product descriptions
Flamboyant product descriptions essentially entice your customers into buying something. However, the real product often gets them disappointed to the core. Sometimes, customers wait for weeks as the item rides through the shipping intricacies.
Soon as they open the package, the delivery devastates their expectations. The delivered article turns out to be on and off unwanted or unnecessary.
Meanwhile, the best online sellers take concrete measures to phase out customer disappointment. Their product description inevitably comes closer to real-life features. Your customers should know exactly what they are getting into.
To ensure superior product descriptions, you can stick to this expert prototype —
- Shoot out an irresistible product title. It gets their attention to the details.
- To make a powerful sales pitch, expand with a descriptive paragraph. Also, the product has to solve the problems of the customers. So, focus on the solution more than the description.
- It must outline the unique properties of the product. Set out the core specifications using bullet points.
- Display your customer satisfaction, social shares & credibility. Develop an urgency in the buyer. Put a call-to-action button to facilitate an instant purchase.
2. Use crisp product images
The virtual and real products come with some differences. Stats show that 22% of returns are triggered by this variation in appearance. Professional product photography could subside this dilemma. Make them real even on the website. The color and quality must reflect in full capacity.
For any thriving online store, this is rather an obvious path. However, many shop owners are willing to walk the cheap route. Any negligence on this front opens the floodgate to returns. Remember that ceaseless optimization is the key to success here. Review your customer feedback to assess their experience.
Multiple angles of the product spur your conversion rates. They also dial down the misperception of the customers. They need not rely on guesswork to imagine the product in reality. Great images drive out surprises from the equation and decrease returns.
3. Tap into branded product videos
A short, sweet, problem-solving product video can do more than a hundred product descriptions.
Oftentimes, images fail to satisfy customer expectations. This failure translates into returns. To better clear up the product description, smart online sellers are adding transparent product videos.
This latest trend is taking online stores by storm. Approximately, 65% of consumers opine that product videos help them imagine the item in actuality.
Besides, stellar product videos gain traction on social media. Such a wave of popularity could bring you a windfall.
4. Simplify return policy
Easy return policy generates customer confidence in your store. Expedite the return and upfront process. If the deal is not working favorably, you must redirect them to your worry-free program.
World-class brands are reputed for their liberal return policies. For example, you may study IKEA’s approach.
Your directness, generosity, and trust eventually rally potential customers behind you. In the end, this outlook speaks to your inflated conversion rate.
If you go miserly to save a penny, your eCommerce business will lose a buck down the road. Never forget that 69% of customers would not purchase from a brand that denies them the shipping fees on returns. Again, 33% of customers withhold their purchase unless they can effortlessly locate the exchange or return policy.
5. Elaborate on the size guide & fitting tools
Go through your size guides. They must be up to date and responsive to various screen sizes. It prevents accidental wrong size orders.
A small slider or measurement tape shows how the product appears on your customers. It displays whether the size fits as expected or goes slightly larger than expected.
Sometimes, interior artists demonstrate how furniture blends in a certain dimension or setting.
Besides, a precise size chart in CM or inch gives the customer an exact idea of the item.
6. Use consumer data & experiences
You can track the products that were most frequently returned in the past. Now, sort out a list of similar articles. When the customer visits the problem product, show these handpicked alternatives as suggestions to them. Other decent fits might capture their imagination. Thus you can cut down returns.
Moreover, analyze your customers and classify them into target groups. Hence, you can design a personalized approach to address their concerns.
7. Facilitate exchanges instead of returns
Now, one crazy piece of data sets you up for a whole new ball game.
Narvar produced a consumer report in 2018. It shows that 57% of buyers are willing for item replacement from your shop. Only 16% of them consider another online store to purchase the same article.
So, you can hedge on an easy exchange program. This way, retailers can bag the revenue while maintaining customer satisfaction.
ThemeIM experts recommend instant refunds on eCommerce returns or a quick exchange against the same value. Your customers hate to wait for a refund. And it prompts them to turn towards another retailer for the same item.
8. A convincing post-purchase email
Reduce returns by crafting an unforgettable post-purchase email. This is a classic move with high effectiveness.
You basically tap into the small time window between product order and delivery. Send them insights on the item, and the process of using it, address their objections and sustain their excitement for the purchased article.
Customer evangelist Van Geislar sheds light on post-purchase communications.
9. Stunning packaging
You can bet the ranch on the packaging. The packaging considerations vary from parcel to parcel. The goal is to preserve it in an ideal condition.
At the same time, it charms your visitors. Inadequate packaging often leads to damaged items. On arrival, the customer finds it disgusting. Thus the article immediately returns to the store.
Fragile pieces require bubble wraps along with double or triple-lined boxes. The parcel is subject to abuse on the transport. It gets trampled on, thrown around, lifted and dropped, and stacked under loads of pressure. The packaging should be up to the mark to stave off the heavy-duty strains.
Intelligent sellers describe their delicate items on a label. The storage instruction clearly marks how to handle it and what is inside. This tactic drives greater precaution from the handlers. In case the shipment goes missing, you can track it as well.
In addition, flawless packaging helps you identify the cause of damage with greater certainty. Thus, you can distinctly detect the responsibility of the courier from your packaging issues. Then, you may evaluate the performance of the shipping agency and resort to a new one if needed.
10. Develop an eco-friendly return policy
Climate change and its public awareness can bring you business. About 75% of customers would prefer shopping at a store with a smaller carbon footprint. The return process must be sustainable to convince them to purchase from you.
Moreover, 71% of customers would commit to paying more for returns with less carbon emission.
Return shipment contributes to an additional 15 million tonnes of yearly carbon release. Per year, five million people add this amount of carbon to the atmosphere.
First, you need to downsize the number of returns. It truncates your carbon footprint.
However, you are still destined to receive a few packages anyway. So, put a sustainable eCommerce return policy in place.
Also, dump the prepackaged free-return labels in the parcels. Many customers do not need those at all. Therefore, printing those labels is a total waste. Preferably, direct your customers to an online source where they can print it for themselves.
How to manage online customer expectations?
In fact, the product never returns if they receive exactly what they paid for. As a result, an accurate and definite product description is crucial. Display the item in full in terms of what it is, how it appears, the size dimensions, and fittings. These product page attributes take little time to fix. But they put the customer on par with the product features.
eCommerce returns are the biggest pain point of all online ventures. Fashion, jewelry, and several other extravagant products might seem less attractive once they reach the customer. Their perception changes track all the time.
How to reduce Shopify product return? You can promote a customer-friendly online environment. So, they can make a flawless decision. The more they make the right choice, the less you see returns. Intelligent online sellers are all about helping customers.
For online start-ups, distinct product pages and immaculate size charts are useful steps in the right direction. Medium and large online enterprises must tap into big data and sophisticated technologies.
If you deliver them what they need, you will experience greater conversions, average order value, lifetime customer value, customer loyalty, and the power of word of mouth.
However, returns are inevitable in any online business. The trick lies in a downsized number of returns and a customer-first return process. ThemeIM helps you achieve both these targets.
With these return prevention techniques up your sleeves, you can better enjoy your eCommerce business.