Four ways to reduce your rate of returns when selling online:
- Provide detailed, accurate information at the point of sale
- Listen to your customers’ feedback
- Be creative in your problem solving
- Provide reactive customer care
Managing returns is a key part of effective online retail, but, as well as the impact returns have on a business – such as increased costs and workload for your staff – poorly managing the process can also have negative environmental implications, and can be time-consuming for your customers.
At Velocity Commerce, we sell a variety of products on Amazon and eBay on behalf of our partner brands, and, no matter what industry you’re working in, there are a number of essential steps you can follow to reduce the rate of returns, and importantly, minimise their impact on staff, customers and the environment.
Provide detailed, accurate information at the point of sale
Transparency is key when it comes to online retail. Amazon and eBay provide a lot of valuable opportunities for retailers to share as much detail as possible on their listings – and you should always take advantage of this. The more informed your potential customers are about the details of their purchase at the point of sale, the less likely they are to return it. Provide comprehensive information on product specifics and features, and share as many images, and even videos, as possible.
Listen to your customers
Your customers are the experts, and their feedback is invaluable. Regularly monitoring customer reviews and product returns information will enable you to understand why exactly customers have returned a product. You can then predict and make proactive improvements to the experience for future customers.
Be creative in your problem solving
Always think creatively about what is going to make your customers’ lives easier – consumers shopping online are always seeking convenience. Many of Velocity Commerce’s partners operate in the consumer electronics industry, and we have found that in some instances returns occur because consumers simply do not know how to set up their product. To combat this, we’ve developed set-up videos and guides, and have scheduled them to land in our customer’s inboxes as their item is delivered. Long gone are the days of hefty instruction manuals, a concise how-to video is much more effective for informing your customers.
Reactive customer care
As well as being proactive to ensure your customers are informed about product details and how they can set them up, being reactive and responding quickly to enquiries can also save unnecessary returns.
How do you reduce the impact of returns?
Some returns will always be unavoidable. When they do come in, it’s important that your team is well prepared to manage them efficiently, especially during peak periods, like post-Christmas. Busy returns periods have a danger of significantly increasing the workload of your team, so having a strategy in place to manage busy periods is key.
At Velocity Commerce, our entire warehouse team is trained to process returns – this is a double edged sword as it helps vary everyone’s role, but also means that a large number of returns don’t land just on a few people if they do flood in.
Returns can also have a negative impact on the environment. All businesses and organisations need to be aware of their impact on the planet and this is something we’re increasingly conscious of at Velocity Commerce. To minimise our environmental impact we are continually reviewing the materials we use in our packaging and we try to reduce the excess packaging as much as possible, while still ensuring the products are well protected (a broken product is worse for the environment than an overly packaged one).
In reality, there’s no magic way to completely eliminate returns, but by taking a holistic approach, that considers your customers, your business and the environment, you can effectively and efficiently, minimise their impact.