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7 Steps to Avoid Returns in Ecommerce


December 23, 2021
4 MIN READ
Vinculum
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Vinculum
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In the current global financial crisis, retailers are being forced to figure out how to manage the impact of changing customer expectations better. Returns are no exception. Looking at 2021’s trends so far, here are some:

  • Consumers can return goods beyond the standard 30-day return period thanks to the commitment of many retailers.
  • Online sales are on the rise as physical stores close. As a result, customers are more likely to return items they purchase online, as they cannot ensure the items they order will fit.
  • The coronavirus’s health concerns that linger on surfaces for prolonged periods have led some retailers to stop accepting returns.

Return management isn’t just about these trends. Post-pandemic, would it be possible to resell returned items? Returning items will require extra precautions, and consumers will be concerned about the virus’ persistence.

Getting strategic about returns will help retailers stay sustainable and not lose their margins or customer experience as a result.

Seven Ways To Avoid Returns

Make sure you are selling the correct item. Making sure you sell the right thing to the right customer is one of the significant steps to eliminating a return. To accomplish this, both sizing charts and data-driven technology that decodes individual style, fit, and size must be implemented.

Focusing on customer satisfaction instead of the lengthy and complicated return process (especially if the value of the item is less than the return costs) means more to be gained. Offering store credit is a better alternative to a return.

Returns that make sense. Consider it an extension of the ease of “click and collect,” but for returns. It will require inventories to be visible and demand to be predicted for intelligent returns. In real-time, while the return is being processed, customers could be instructed where to mail a return label and print it out. In December, a shopper in New York might buy a bathing suit for a trip. Since Florida is a likely destination for the bathing suit, brands typically provide shipping labels to mail the case there rather than allowing the customer to return it to a local store.

Estimate the return. Predicting returns is dependent on data. In particular, data that tracks the reason for a return: whether the consumer did it directly (item was damaged, did not fit, wasn’t as pictured, etc.) or learned through predictive analytics.

Invest in analyzing purchasing and return data so you can accurately predict the probability of a return based on such factors as:

  • Including two items in two different sizes in one order is called duplication. Ultimately, this improves customer satisfaction by determining whether a product is big or small.
  • A cart’s size is usually expressed as the average number of items in the order.
  • If the shipment was delayed and the Halloween costumes are no longer needed.

Get it delivered to your door (or return it). You can enable shoppers to buy online and pick up in-store by allowing them to purchase online. The customer will have the opportunity to test the products they ordered at the curbside and exchange if necessary while picking up. During the visit, sales associates can also cross-sell or up-sell other items.

Whether people shop online or in person, this tech-enabled shopping solution can reduce returns (since associates know what shoppers like, what sizes they need) by allowing sales associates to set aside items based on customers’ past purchase histories.

Shoppers can also view products on an actual person in real-time as part of virtual shopping as a context-rich form of customer engagement.

With augmented reality (AR), shoppers can view how the product would appear with contextual images. Possibly a furniture retailer would create 3D models of products so shoppers could upload a photo to see how an item would look in their home. Seeing the product in its intended, personalized context decreases the risk of product sizing and color combinations returns.

In addition to predicting returns, you can use these strategies to reduce the number of returned items and maintain a healthy bottom line. Regardless of the route you choose, remember that the customer experience should be your number one priority.

The Key Takeaway

Product reviews should be provided for each retailer’s products, and customers should be encouraged to submit accurate and insightful reviews.

Additionally, retailers should implement a user rating system, so customers can vote on helpful reviews since this will boost the value and perception of the quality of the product.

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