Every eCommerce business desires to end its product’s journey at the customer’s doorstep. Unfortunately, this is not the case every time.
Millions of dollars of sales are lost to returns every year. But, these returns can turn the tables and can act as an opportunity for eCommerce companies to turn their dissatisfied customers into loyal ones.
Yes! By keeping your return policy up to the mark, you can convert many prospects into loyal customers.
Return policy plays a vital role in retaining the customers. Let’s discuss the significance of having a decent return policy for eCommerce businesses:
- Every shopper expects to have a hassle-free shopping experience. According to a survey, 92% of consumers said that they would again buy the products from a specific eCommerce company if the return process was easy. See, that is the power of having a decent return policy.
- In today’s era, consumers have become smarter when it comes to purchasing online. Around 67% of consumers lookout for the return policies before actually placing the order. That is why you need to understand the expectation of consumers and apply it to your policies.
- 79% of customers surveyed said that they will not indulge in purchasing with an online store that charges return shipping fees.
- If you are making the customer wait beyond the tolerance level, you are probably losing that customer from your customer base. A survey showed that 88% of customers would refrain from shopping with the merchant who took a long time to credit the refund.
- The competition is so cut-throat today that online consumers have lots of options when it comes to shopping online. The eCommerce businesses are leaving no stone unturned to provide hassle-free return services for giving a better shopping experience to online consumers. Around 58% of consumers expect that the return policy should not be complicated and should be hassle-free.
- If your return policy has unnecessary constraints, then you may be hampering the shopping experience of your customers. An inconvenient return policy deters 80% of shoppers.
Top Reasons Why Consumers Return Products
Even the silliest mistake can lead to customer dissatisfaction. If a customer is not satisfied with a service, he/she might not visit your online store again. There might be some internal issues with the organization that may lead to some unavoidable consequences. An eCommerce business should always keep an eye on all the internal and external operations to avoid any blunder.
There are certain issues that have a major impact on product return rates, and they actually hamper the image of the business and dwindle the customer engagement rate. Let’s ponder on those issues with some stats of the global consumers and find out the reasons that why such issues arise:
- In 22% of the total returns, the customers claim that the product which they had ordered was different than what they received. This is one of the critical issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible. This issue may come about because of poor visuals and the wrong product picture advertised due to misunderstanding.
- In 20% of total returns, the customer had received a damaged or defective product. The main reason for this issue happens to be unorganized supply chain management. Only focussing on advertising the product and paying less emphasis on the logistics cycle creates such issues.
Products That Are Most Frequently Returned
There are certain product categories that have a major contribution to reverse logistics because of the characteristics and the nature of the product.
It has been seen that apparels are majorly returned back to the eCommerce store. Around 43% of the total products returned, apparels are the most frequently returned item. A consumer makes a purchasing decision by looking at the visuals of the items, reading the description of the items but that doesn’t seem adequate when it comes to buying apparel.
Consumers are very sensitive in the case of shopping apparel. The actual size, colour, and material quality are observed by the customers only when the product reaches their doorstep. That’s why the chances of returning apparel stand more than other product categories.
Consumer electronics usually consist of smartphones, laptops, and TV. Consumer electronics happen to have a 12% contribution in total products returned globally. Most people do all the research and data gathering when it comes to buying electronics. Since the electronics price range falls between medium to high, people give more emphasis on researching about the product- what kind of specifications they expect in the product.
After doing all the research work, people arrive at the decision of purchasing. That’s why there are very few instances of electronics being returned as compare to apparel.
These are the products which people use on daily basis and are well-versed with their characteristics. Home products have a 12% proportion in total products returned globally.
People use these products more frequently that’s why chances of returning may be significant sometimes. However, still, they are returned comparatively less than apparel.
Footwear and Other Products
Footwear holds 11% whereas Other products have a 22% contribution in the total products returned globally.
Strategies to Reduce eCommerce product return rate
Now that we know quite much about the types of products being returned majorly and the reasons behinds the product returns. Let’s contemplate the methodologies we can implement to minimize the return rate.
In this section, we will walk you through some general practices which you should implement to reduce the product return rate and then in the last section, we will be discussing the main mantra i.e., how you can optimize your eCommerce return policy to shrink down your product return rate. So, here are some general practices you should ponder on:
Enhance Product Visuals
Having a high-quality product image can allow you to link the customer expectation with the product reality. Display the 360-degree view of the product with the zoom-in functionality and have different pictures of the product in different colors so as to bridge the gap between the actual product view and its digital view.
Detailed Product Description
Since your customers cannot touch, feel, and use the product before purchasing, it is very important to include a detailed product description. A well-written product description matters a lot when it comes to providing the best virtual experience.
You should explain every necessary attribute of the product such as the material used, features, and other unique characteristics of the product.
Be precise with the sizing information
Product returns due to sizing error or poor fit are very recurrent in apparel eCommerce businesses. You should very precise while mentioning the sizing information.
Make sure you provide accurate measurements and brand-specific size charts. You can also implement AI functionality to your eCommerce store that will ask for the size information from the customer and then display the relevant product options.
Conduct regular product quality testing
If you are witnessing a high return rate even when your product page is showing details of your product perfectly, then there might be an issue with the product at the manufacturing end. Do regular product quality checkups with your manufacturer to address any quality issues.
Collect & analyze customer feedback
Collect the reviews and feedbacks of the customers and find out the reasons why customers are returning products. After you address the issue, you can work on resolving them optimizing the product page, writing apt product descriptions, etc.
Form a decent return policy
Forming a decent return policy can actually make you increase your customer base. Forming a return policy by keeping the ease and comfort of the customer into consideration actually decreases the return rates and increases conversion rates.
As promised, in the coming section, we will be briefly discussing how you can write a flawless return policy to generate more leads.
Writing An Enticing eCommerce Return policy
Your eCommerce return policy comprises all the constraints and conditions that are supposed to be met before you allocate any kind of refunds.
Various factors need to chew over while writing your eCommerce return policy. We will be throwing some light on some of the necessary points that your eCommerce business must consider while writing a return policy:
Decent timeframe for returns
Mention the exact number of days in which the customers can return their products. The appropriate timeframe falls between 15 to 30 days.
However, you can be more generous by giving a timeframe of around 90 days. But, remember don’t extend the timeframe beyond 90 days because that may impact your business.
Elucidate the conditions for accepting returns
Make sure you clearly elucidate the condition of the items when it is received as a return.
You should induce certain conditions which make sure that the product you received as a return was defective right from the manufacturing plant and was not broken by the customer while using.
Providing a Refund or a credit
This is totally your call whether you want to offer a refund or a credit. Many businesses even provide partial refunds and partial credits. To decide which refund model is best for your eCommerce business, you may look out for your competitors.
Analyze and determine what kind of refunds your competitors are giving and based on that, take a call. Offering an in-store credit is favorable to only some products. If you go on providing credits as a form of refund for all kind of products, you may hamper the credibility of your business in the longer run.
Use understandable language
Keep it simple. You need to write your return policy in a layman’s language. It is should be easily read and understood by an average customer.
Avoid using heavy jargons and making the document complicated. Usage of first-person in the document is recommended because it makes the customer relate with the document.
Mention all the relevant fees
Be transparent with your customer. Disclose are the relevant charges with the complete break-up of the charges.
The customer doesn’t appreciate spending an extra penny for returns. Maintaining transparency is very necessary while forming your return policy.
Setup a Returns FAQ page
Keeping a returns FAQ page can turn out to be a good move for addressing small doubts and questions of your customers.
This not only will lift off the burden from your support team but also will save time for your customers.
Make your policy visible
Do the internal linking on your website. Paste the links of your return policy at appropriate places on your website like placing links on the checkout pages. Customers would want to know the detailed description behind the charges.
Now that you have reached the end of the blog, you must have got hold of the nuances of the eCommerce return policy. Regardless to say, writing an eCommerce return policy needs a good foundation of understanding the perception of customers and the market.