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.
Expanding an ecommerce business is more than just expanding product catalogs and opening more distribution centers. The administrative strategy and operational support functions of your back office are vital – and their capabilities need to scale alongside business growth for overall success. In this blog post, we'll cover some fundamental elements to consider when evaluating your current back office's capabilities and ensuring they keep pace with the growth of your business.
You need more than just a well-designed website to provide a great customer experience. Accessible and attentive customer service shape the final perception of unsatisfactory experiences and are a must for long-term success – so it's critical to assess your company's approach to customer relations from multiple angles and improve where necessary. Periodically review customer service call monitoring stats, product reviews, and fulfillment reporting you have in place and look for gaps to fill. If your reporting doesn't identify any ongoing problems, you may be able to find new growth opportunities through customer satisfaction surveys.
Taxes & Accounting
Tax laws and financial reporting requirements relevant to ecommerce can be more difficult and time consuming to manage as your business expands. Evaluate whether the software, staff, and strategies you’re using to maintain compliance are "right sized" for your current, and future, business goals.
Billing & Invoicing
Providing multiple payment options for your customers certainly has its benefits, but it can add complexity to back office operations. Verify your level of protection from payment fraud, optimize your chargeback management process, and ensure you are able to efficiently process refunds for all of the payment methods you accept.
Data Reporting & Analysis
Data plays a big role in the decision-making process for product expansions/reductions and is important for growing your audience and sales numbers. You’ll need to make sure your warehouse management solution can provide this data in actionable reports that can provide clear insight into the future of your business.
At Fulfillment Works, we support our clients’ back office operations with Manhattan Active™ Supply Chain software, which provides enterprise-level solutions for all of the above areas (and then some). To learn more about how we can support your business growth behind the scenes, contact us today.
When sales drop or product returns increase, you may find your warehouse filling up with excess inventory. Excess inventory occupies warehouse space, ties up your working capital (especially if you need to lease additional space just for overstock), and in some cases, continues to lose value. For example, if you start selling a new & improved version of an old product, demand for the previous version may drop so low that even big discounts aren't good enough incentives for customers.
Liquidations and auctions are common solutions for dealing with overstock. However, the time it takes for them to start showing ROI and the labor of coordinating them are not conducive to every situation. Conversely, making in-kind donations of overstock can be easier (i.e. no negotiating with liquidators, no creating online auctions), faster, and better for your bottom line. Not many companies realize it, but simply giving away your unprofitable inventory can yield a number of business benefits, such as:
Inventory donations are tax deductible in the US. If your business is eligible for them, the federal tax deductions you receive may even be better than what you’d get from liquidation.
Unless you're in the business of rare collectibles, the total costs of storing outdated inventory can quickly exceed its value. By donating overstock, you free up valuable warehouse space to make room for more profitable products. On top of that, you save on transportation and disposal costs while helping communities in need.
Retain Brand Value
Repeatedly discounting and liquidating your products lessens their value and detracts from your brand. By partnering with a gifts-in-kind organization, you can avoid this scenario. These groups are licensed 501(c)(3) nonprofits that collect all types of unwanted merchandise from member businesses, then redistribute it across a tightly-closed "market" of member-NPOs like small charities, churches and schools.
In-kind giving is ideal for offloading overstocks, obsolete merchandise, discontinued products and returns. Even though unwanted inventory no longer benefits your business, don't forget that it can still be very useful to those in need.