Returns are a fact of life for any ecommerce business, and they’re on the rise—according to a 2016 Multichannel Merchant survey, 15.4 percent of respondents said that their personal ecommerce return rate was in the 10-14 percent range, up from 8.3 percent in 2015. Why? In addition to an overall rise in ecommerce transactions, many sellers find – although it sounds counterintuitive – that liberal return policies often help drive sales.
So, what can your business do to manage returns in a way that both pleases your customers and keeps costs down? Here are a few simple tips.
Provide plenty of product details
If you are very specific about your products’ specs, size, manufacturer and condition, customers have a clear understanding of what they’re ordering are less likely to make returns based on unmet expectations. For clothing in particular, providing clear, multiple-angle photographs as well as detailed information about cut, color and fit (such as “runs small” or exact inseam length) helps buyers order accurately.
Share return stats with your vendors
If your product specs come directly from vendors, keep track of return stats and let vendors know they need to fine-tune their measurement techniques.
Offer to answer customer questions
Proactively offer to connect with customers before they order. In addition to providing detailed product information and answers to specific questions, making yourself or your customer-care team available by phone, chat or email reminds buyers of the people behind the storefront.
Set clear limits on what can be returned
Many retailers make certain items – such as custom orders, personalized products or clearance merchandise – ineligible for returns. Just make sure you include this information prominently in both the product description and on your store policy page.
Establish a returns deadline
Consider accepting returns only within a certain timeframe, such as 60 days. While some sellers prefer shorter return windows to deter returns, customers often form attachments to products after having them in hand for a longer period, which can ultimately cut down on returns.
Remember, prompt and gracious handling of returns contributes to brand loyalty and keeps customers happy. Taking steps toward reducing the need for returns can help streamline operations, as well as improve your bottom line.