The worst nightmare of an eCommerce operator is a return. Even if the customer pays for the shipment back to the item’s origin, a return results in two things: profit loss and bad customer experience.
If you have an eCommerce store, you have to do what you can to lower your eCommerce website’s return rate. This part of the business causes a lot of headaches, and reducing it to an acceptable percentage should be one of your goals.
The methods I will share are:
- Clear product description
- Make yourself available
- Create an FAQ on your website
- Confirm orders prior to shipment
- Offer an alternative
By the end of this tutorial, you should have a high-level plan on how you can improve our return rate. Let us get started!
Clear Product Description
The first step to prevent a merchandise return is to set clear expectations. One sad thing about many marketers is that they make the product sound better than what it truly is.
While this isn’t wrong, you have to tread carefully, and understand the difference between borderline lieing and good marketing.
Here are some tips:
- Disclose the product materials, ingredients, or content
- Write a product description that has all the details a customer needs to know
- If your product is small, photograph it with a ruler so customers understand the size
- Provide shipping details, including the handling and processing time
Many customers return a product because they are not as described. If you sell a plush toy and your photo makes it look huge, a customer will expect it to be big. If it turns out to be miniature size, the customer will not be happy.
Your product description must be honest. Do not add anything that your product cannot do. If your product is made of polyester, do not say it is made of cotton. If there is one thing that a customer hates, it is being lied to or being had.
Make Yourself Available
To lower your eCommerce website’s return rate, make sure there is an easy way for a customer to contact you. This is equally as important as putting the appropriate product description on your pages.
Because sometimes, customers have questions that your product description failed to answer. It is also possible that customer did not read your entire product description, much less your FAQ page or shipping terms and conditions.
Some of the best ways that you can use for customer inquiries are:
- Chat box – you do not have to be online all the time but customers find it easier to use this; depending on your platform you can use Facebook chat as your default chat method.
- Email – while this is going out of style now, it still makes sense to use it. An email is professional. Do not use free emails from GMAIL or Yahoo! These free email services make you look like a scammer.
- Social Media – build your social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Make sure that your footer has links to your pages so your site visitors can add you and contact you from there.
How does being available reduce return rates?
If you are available, you can provide clarity to your consumers. You should be able to answer all their questions, and this makes them more confident to buy, with little to no likelihood of returning the item if you satisfied their inquiries.
Create an FAQ on Your Website
Dedicate a page on your online store for frequently asked questions. This should provide answers to your customers before they place an order.
Some of the standard contents of FAQ pages are:
- Where are you located?
- How long will the shipping take?
- Do I have to pay for shipping?
- How much does the shipping cost?
- What is the return policy?
If you are just starting out, you need to have a brainstorming session and list down all possible customer inquiries. Start with this list, then keep on adding some more later on.
As your customers make purchases, they may also send you email or chat messages. If these questions are not part of your existing FAQ, add them. If they belong to a specific question that you already published, date your FAQ page.
An FAQ page sets an expectation about your general store policies. It makes you look credible, and it can help reduce your return rate because customers who order have the right expectations.
Confirm Orders Prior to Shipment
This is something that a lot of online entrepreneurs do not do. Many sellers process the order right away. Some even have an auto-processor, a tool that sends the order to the dispatcher.
If you are selling on Amazon, this is great. Amazon has awesome seller protection and buyer protection policies. If you are selling in your own, you will have to deal with the financial burden of a return.
To prevent this, send the customer an email and then ask if he or she is confirming this order.
How does this help?
For one, it eliminates the possibility that the order was fraudulent. Once an item has been sent, and customer says she did not order it, you can send her the email. If she files for a credit card chargeback, you can send the credit card company the confirmation email.
This also allows you to check if the email even matches your customer’s name, therefore preventing any potential issue of fraud.
Offer an Alternative
The last thing that you can do to reduce return rate is to offer other alternatives. What does this mean? What it means is that you can tell your customer not to return the product anymore. Instead, you are going to make an offer.
Here are some offers you can consider:
- You send a new product free of charge – this works great if you really have a high profit margin
- You offer store points – instead of the customer being issued a refund, give her store points or credits that she can use only in your store.
- You send an extra product that is different – sometimes, customers are unhappy about the most trivial things. If the profit loss of a return is too high, you can offer to send a low-price product to compensate for the customer’s unhappiness.
Sometimes, you will still earn profit even if the cost and shipping cost of these two items are combined.
Be creative in dealing with customer complaints and returns. In many cases, customers do not want to go through the hassle of sending the item back—they have to drive, stop by the post office, fill up some paperwork, and more.
In many situations, a customer will be happy to accept your offer. For as long as the issue of getting a refund is not serious, many customers would rather that they get something free.
There goes our list of the best ways to reduce returns from an eCommerce store. Make sure that you execute all five of them. If you miss any of these, there is a likelihood that you will have returns for orders.
Take each step at a time. Start with a standardized product description, then create your FAQ pages. For the test of the three, these are rather on-the-spot decisions, not processes or web pages that you have to put on your website.
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