Returns. They eat away at your profit margins and eviscerate your conversion rates. According to Statista, return deliveries will cost online retailers more than $500 billion by 2020. And that doesn’t factor in restocking expenses or inventory losses.
But did you know a well-executed ecommerce return policy can actually drive sales and strengthen customer loyalty? That’s because paying attention to your customers’ after-buying experience pays off. According to comScore, 63% of consumers say they actually take the time to read a return policy before deciding whether or not to make a purchase at an online store.
If customers are taking the time to read your return policy, make sure it lives up to the hype. Use our easy to follow return policy checklist to craft one that is detailed and jargon-free:
1. USE PLAIN LANGUAGE
Plain language is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. When writing your return policy, use:
- “You” and other pronouns
- Active voice
- Short sentences
- Common, everyday words
- Easy-to-read design features (like itemized lists and short paragraphs)
2. SPECIFY A TIMEFRAME FOR RETURNS
Let your customers know how long they have to return a product. Keep in mind that a longer return period increases confidence in your customers and the likelihood of a sale.
3. SET CONDITIONS FOR RETURNS
Because of the intangible nature of online shopping, ecommerce stores get more returns than brick-and-mortars. Some common reasons for returns include:
- A product that was damaged in shipping, or the wrong item was shipped
- A customer purchased the wrong thing
- Gift returns or exchanges
- The product didn’t match the description
But there are also customers who engage in “wardrobing.” That’s when someone buys an item, uses it, and then attempts to return it for a full refund.
Protect yourself from wardrobers by clearly defining the condition a product must be in before a return can be processed. It’s the easiest way to avoid getting stuck with merchandise you can’t restock.
4. CREDIT OR REFUND?
This is a biggie. Let your customers know if you offer full refunds or just in-store credit.
We recommend offering your customers full refunds on returned merchandise that meets your conditions for returns. Shoppers prefer having options for returning products. If you only offer in-store credit, you risk losing a sale before your customers even commit.
5. SHOW FEES & SHIPPING COSTS
Will your customer have to pay for shipping if they return an item? Will they be charged a restocking fee? Be upfront about what it will cost customers to return your products, or you’ll face consumer backlash later.
6. THINK INTERNATIONALLY
Do you have a return policy for international orders? Make sure to provide clear instructions on where returns should be shipped, and how items will be refunded, including shipping fees for preference-based returns. Will refund amounts be credited in the same currency and using the same exchange rate as the original tender?
If you are an international ecommerce selling globally, make sure to include these details.
7. MAKE IT VISIBLE
Your policy won’t matter if your customers can’t find it. Feature a direct link to your return policy on the footer your ecommerce homepage, or make it a part of your checkout process.
We also recommend including a printed copy of your return policy inside every package you ship and inside your email confirmation to customers.
When it comes to your ecommerce return policy, don’t skimp on the details or fill it with legalese. Be upfront with your customers about how you handle returns. You’ll save yourself headaches down the line and, if you offer a generous return policy, be rewarded with more sales.
Thanks to fierce competition in the retail world, consumers have more and more options when it comes to shopping. And whether it’s online, mobile or in-store, both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers have diligently stepped up their games to keep up with new demands.
One option still gaining popularity is buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS). According to a report by Adobe Analytics, BOPIS increased 50 percent over the 2018 holiday season. But effective BOPIS retail strategies have proved somewhat challenging for retailers. What makes click-and-collect so tricky to execute?
There are several components that can trip up a BOPIS strategy, including inventory inaccuracies, communication, and execution.
However, there are best practices you can use to better your BOPIS retail strategy and improve the consistency of your service offering.
TRACK YOUR INVENTORY (ACCURATELY)
Today’s fulfillment options mean many moving parts for omnichannel retailers. Things can get especially tricky when online customers shop for products specifically marked as available for BOPIS. Imagine, for example, two customers add the same item to their online cart, but your store only has one of those items in stock. Come checkout, one of those shoppers won’t be happy – you’ll likely lose a sale, and possibly a customer.
This is why as a retailer, you need to implement real-time cross-channel inventory tracking and order fulfillment to keep your inventory as up to date as possible.
Inventory that isn't carefully tracked and managed can create big problems down the road. Make sure to incorporate best practices into your day-to-day inventory management. It is crucial to the success of your BOPIS retail strategy.
SWEAT THE DETAILS
If not everything you sell online is available for BOPIS, be clear about it from the get-go.
Enable your online customers to set their store location and add a filter that gives them the ability to shop for products that are only available for in-store pickup. Be sure to promote your filter at the top of your product pages; you want shoppers to know if they can pick up their orders in-store before they begin shopping.
Once your customer places a BOPIS order, communication is key. Send an immediate confirmation and include order details, clear directions on where to pick up in-store, and what forms of identification are needed.
NAIL YOUR PICK-UP PROCESS
Are you placing your BOPIS pickup points at the back of your store to seduce customers into buying more stuff? Don’t. Instead, make it easy for your customers to retrieve their orders by placing your pickup location at the front of your store. Use clear signage or even consider curbside service to designated parking spaces. Remember, your customers don’t want to feel manipulated; they chose your BOPIS service because they want a quick and convenient online shopping experience.
Another important factor in the pick-up process is to make sure your staff has the information they need to make your customers' BOPIS experience a good one. They should be able to retrieve orders quickly and know how to handle potential problems such as returns. Or consider having dedicated staff specifically for your BOPIS orders. Either way, proper staff training will help ensure a successful BOPIS strategy.
Do you even need a BOPIS strategy? What if it’s just a fad?
According to a Signifyd survey, millennials' shopping preferences are what’s driving the need for BOPIS. And despite its implementation challenges, BOPIS is here to stay. If you’re a retailer wanting to make the most of this shopping experience, make sure you understand and follow BOPIS best practices.
Product descriptions are the key to conversions for any ecommerce site. But how do you make them enticing enough to turn online browsers into buyers? Stop thinking of them as “descriptions,” for one. Specifications such as color and size may describe your product accurately, but they hardly have the persuasive juices to make a shopper “Add to Cart.”
Remember, a product description is also a sales tool. Here are three tips to help you write product copy to improve your bottom line.
1. Know Your Audience
Who is your product for? Which demographic do they fall into? What are their interests? The more questions you can answer about your target audience, the better you’ll be able to relate to their needs.
Ask yourself why this person would be interested in your product. This will help you bridge your products’ features and benefits to your potential buyers’ motivations.
2. Link Features to Benefits
By better understanding your audience, you’ll recognize what their pain points are and how your products can help them.
Let’s say your online store sells thermal coffee mugs. One of the features of this mug is the stainless steel double wall. What is the takeaway for shoppers? Nothing, unless you let them know how this feature benefits them.
Example: The Onyx Thermal Coffee Mug’s stainless steel double wall keeps your drinks piping hot for up to 8 hours while keeping your cup cool to the touch.
Always follow your feature with a clear benefit.
3. Nip Objections in the Bud
Buyer’s guilt is real and it usually strikes sometime before checkout. Objections that generally pop up include:
- Do I really need this?
- I shouldn’t be spending money on this.
- Let me think about this some more.
According to Moz’s Martina Mercer, you can eliminate buyer’s guilt by using and avoiding certain words. Don’t, for example, use words such as “treat” or a “luxury” to describe your products. Instead, label your product as “essential.” Highlight your products’ multi-use and target words that make them sound exclusive. Refer to your product as a “bargain,” and if your offer is a limited-time one, say so. It will create a sense of urgency.
Following these tips will help, but your product descriptions won’t make an impact if they’re hard to read. Avoid using long paragraphs when writing them. Use a couple of sentences as an introduction, but list out your features and benefits with bullet points. This will make your copy easier to scan.
Shoppers rely on your product descriptions to make purchasing decisions, so write description that sell! If you’re not sure about what content to include on your pages, here are some recommendations on the best information to include on your products pages.
Reverse logistics management is an important factor for success in ecommerce - perhaps more than you may realize. To help paint a picture of all the different ways reverse logistics impacts businesses and their customers, we'll take a look at some fascinating data points from around the web and examine their importance in developing broad logistics strategies.
Stat: Ecommerce purchases are 3x more likely than retail purchases to be returned (USPS)
Takeaway: It’s all too easy to let outbound logistics absorb all your focus, but remember: the more you ship, the more returns you’ll have to process (statistically speaking). Plus, because they are such a significant aspect of ecommerce, returns are also a major component of the customer experience your business becomes known for. Streamlining your management processes for reverse logistics today will help you (and your customers) save time and money as the number of returns you process inevitably grows alongside your sales.
Stat: 20% of ecommerce returns occur because of shipping damage (Invesp)
Takeaway: Considering that the cost to replace a damaged product can be 17x the original cost to ship it, ecommerce companies would be wise to prevent those losses by modifying their approach to reverse logistics. Customizing your packaging to an optimal size and level of protection can be simple yet effective change that gets better DIM shipping rates, improves return rates for damaged products, and generates less packaging waste for a cleaner environment. And speaking of reverse logistics and the environment…
Stat: About 5 billion pounds of returned merchandise ends up in landfills (Retail Dive)
Takeaway: That’s a huge amount of waste – and it doesn’t even include waste from excess packaging materials or the fuel spent trucking products from fulfillment center to customer, then back to the fulfillment center and off to the dump. If you want your business to be more eco-friendly, sustainable, and profitable, think about ways you could be recouping costs from returns or donating them.
Stat: 58% of shoppers say they are “increasingly not satisfied” with the ease of making returns. 72% of shoppers are willing to spend more per order, and order more frequently, from online stores with a customer-friendly returns process (Shopify)
Takeaway: As the saying goes: “The customer is always right.” Optimizing your reverse logistics has the potential to do wonders for your brand reputation and customer trust levels.
The experience that shoppers have with your ecommerce brand isn't limited to interactions with your website. It continues offline through the product fulfillment process – including how an order is packaged, the condition of the items in an order, and efficiency of the returns process. While your direct control over shipping and handling is limited during the last mile, there are a few things you can do before packages leave your warehouse that will go a long way toward giving customers a delivery experience that makes a good impression.
In a Harris Poll survey (funded by packaging manufacturer, Sealed Air) of more than 2,000 U.S. adult consumers, 66% believed that an item’s packaging tells them something about how much the brand cares about them. From excessive or messy dunnage (like Styrofoam peanuts) to small products in oversized containers – when customers are left to do the dirty work of cleaning up all that wasteful material, their experience with your brand suffers. Customizing your packaging to an optimal size can not only help create a better brand image in the eyes of your customers, it can reduce shipping and materials costs over the long-term.
In the previously mentioned survey, 59% of consumers believed that retailers and carriers are equally responsible for damage to a product that was ordered online. By right-sizing your containers and using the latest in dunnage technology, you can better protect your shipments and spare your customers the disappointing experience of waiting for an order, only for it to arrive in less than mint condition. Additionally, since customers are more likely to place the blame on you if your products arrived damaged, strive to work more closely with your carriers and/or 3PL provider to find solutions for reducing damaged inventory.
By mastering reverse logistics, you can minimize the cost of the returns processing and recoup lost profit from the returned product. But more importantly, customers love a smooth returns process, so your customer satisfaction can increase as well. Remember: Every return is another point of engagement with your customer. It should reflect the same focus and attention to detail as every other part of the customer experience. Once you assure a customer that your returns process is easy, then you eliminate hesitation from the next purchase and convince them to shop with you again and again.