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Seven steps to reduce returns
Retailers saw online sales boom over the 2012 festive period, with over 300 million retail web visits from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day alone! With more and more customers opting to purchase items before physically seeing them, poor product descriptions or a lack of available reviews can lead to customers not getting quite what they expected – and a returns and refunds headache for the retailer.
In this first blog of 2013, the team at specialist ecommerce and fulfilment company Hallmark Consumer Services sets out seven key steps to reducing your returns – and saving both time and money.
1. Provide accurate product descriptions
It’s essential to ensure that the online descriptions and images truly reflect the physical product. Be sure that your prospective customers can see – and understand - size dimensions and performance.
2. Review manufacturers’ product guides
A poorly written or unclear ‘help’ guide can contribute substantially to queries and returns – and that’s when the customer actually reads the guide! If you need to communicate important product information to your customers, make sure you use clear, accessible language and position it where it can grab the attention of the user, such as placed on top of the product so it’s visible when the package is opened.
3. Encourage customer feedback and item reviews
Customer reviews can halve the amount of returns (e-commercefacts.com) as they help shoppers to make a more informed choice. If your product and overall service is great, then this is the perfect opportunity for you to prove it, at minimum expense.
4. Monitor FAQ’s and customer queries
Keep a log of all customer and product queries and establish which ones are most frequent. Supply answers to these ‘FAQs’ on the product page to give customers extra pre-purchase information - and reduce your time spent answering individual queries.
5. Test sales material before launch
If you are making a promise to your customers, you must guarantee that you and your product (or service) can deliver that particular offer. You can save yourself a lot of time in returns handling by concept testing your proposals or inventory for feasibility. A little time dedicated to this can go a long way in the long run.
6. Create a Prevention Audit
Don’t settle for merely ‘handling’ the return. Analyse why it happened in the first place. The ‘5 Whys’ question asking technique is a useful tool for investigating the root cause of a problem. Once identified, look to rectify the issue and take measures to reduce or, if possible, eliminate it.
7. Enable virtual viewing
Give customers every opportunity to view the product in action through accurate images and video where possible. By photographing the item alongside another easily recognisable object can help customers to get a clear idea of size and appearance. For clothing retailers, virtual fitting rooms technology lets the customer ‘try on’ the clothes online by submitting their measurements.
No online retailer can expect to eliminate returns and refunds but by taking every step to ensure your customers understand exactly what they are buying -and developing with a focused approach to analysing returns - you can take steps to significantly minimise their impact on your business.
Need to know more?
For more information on any aspect of online retailing, e-commerce or e-fulfilment, please contact Simon Stanley on 01664 485000. You can also view our efulfilment guide here . Our guides are also available on our website, http://www.hallmarkconsumer.co.uk/.