The Christmas season is the biggest time of the year for sales across the country. But on the flipside it also leads to the biggest returns of the year as people face buyer’s remorse, incorrect sizes, lack of funds, or other problems and decide to send merchandise back where it came from.
It’s a scary (and poorly reported) fact that one-third of all products sold online are returned. In the virtual world where people can’t try on clothes or make sure they like all the features on pieces of hardware before purchasing them, you’ve got to expect that mistakes will be made and people will need to return items from time to time.
But one-third still seems pretty extreme. There are some cases where people habitually take advantage of lenient return policies to try out expensive products they have no intention of keeping. Businesses need to balance the legitimate need customers have to return products with the potential abuse that can come from being too open.
How can you minimize returns and keep your customers happy? Here are five ideas, which are primarily aimed at ecommerce retailers:
Keep track of what your customers order and return so that you can make suggestions when they order something new. If they usually get the wrong size or model of a product, remind them of that fact so they can make a smarter purchase the first time.
Send detailed instructions on how to properly use and care for items so they don’t break or run into other problems during their initial use.
Offer discounts on products that have lower return rates to steer customers toward them if there are comparable items that are returned more frequently.
Reward customers who rarely return items with special offers, discounts, and other incentives to thank them for their loyalty and easiness to work with.
Empower your customer-service representatives to help customers rather than waiting for a manager to make a final decision. Customers appreciate swiftness in resolving their concerns and they are often willing to accept a price reduction or other offer rather than go through the process of returning a slightly damaged item.
By following these guidelines, and using other customer-focused tactics that address your business’ unique situation, you can significantly reduce the number of returns you receive without sacrificing customer service.