As an online retailer, you face a multitude of challenges that seem to evolve in complexity. In addition to providing an optimal shopping experience, prompt shipping, smooth delivery and competent customer service, there is one topic that seems to be a sticking point: returns management. Whether the customer doesn't like the goods, they do not fit, or they were ordered twice – today, customers expect a quick and easy return process. Online Shopper 2017 now ranks "return processing" as the most important criterion* for shipping and delivery.
- Describe your products in detail
- Create attractive product photos and/or videos
- Provide product details, such as the colour, as clearly as possible
- Use a powerful inventory management system
- Use the Shopping Advisor to guide your customers to the most suitable product for them
- Use Customer Streams for targeted offers
Legislation also has a clear view on this: it must be as easy as possible for customers to return anything they cannot touch in a store. This rule makes sense for the consumer, but also results in online retailers like yourself sometimes having to record high return rates. More than ever before, poor returns management can quickly prove to be the undoing of smaller online retailers, which is why we are giving you tips that you can implement today. Convenient service for customers is something of a balancing act for online retailers. If the retailer includes a return slip with the delivery, this sometimes seems like an invitation to send something back. If they don't include a return slip, the returns process quickly takes up more time, and therefore more money.
Avoid uncertainty with detailed product descriptions
The return rate is comparatively high in the fashion industry, where customers often order the same garment in different sizes or are unhappy with the material when it arrives. You can counteract this with a detailed product description. If customers can get comprehensive information on the size and quality of the garment in your online shop, they can decide with more certainty whether it will suit them and, if so, in what size. Of course, aspects such as high-quality photos and videos that clearly show the material and colour of the garment all help. A Shopping Advisor that asks customers about their style or body shape also make a difference. Of course, the product descriptions can also be adapted to other items that need explanation in other industries.
Best practice example:
You can view a best practice example in the online shop of our customer Paulmann: The items are described comprehensively and yet in a way that is easy and quick to read. All the technical information is listed and can be downloaded as PDF, as can the assembly instructions. There are also attractive and informative product photos and videos, as well as links to additional accessories that might be needed.
Display products that suit your customer
The Shopware Customer Streams are also ideal for putting together tailor-made offers for selected customers. You can individually choose which customer groups you want to target, and gain attention with start page content, newsletters, etc. that are individually tailored to their interests. This might not only reduce the returns rate – it could also sustainably increase the conversion rate.
Avoid incorrect deliveries with the right ERP
Another factor in reducing the return rate is avoiding incorrect deliveries. A scanner-based picking system or the right ERP helps to ensure that the items can be scanned easily and end up in the right package.
Through keeping these points in mind, you will succeed in improving your return rate. Unfortunately, you probably won't ever manage to completely reduce it to 0 %. This makes it all the more important for you to continue the positive customer experience in your shop when the goods are delivered. After all, if you not only offer your customers a quick delivery but also a smooth returns process, you can boost your conversion rate in advance and look forward to return customers.
Additional tip: Implement a returns portal in your look & feel
Returns management: Customer serivce is a careful balancing act for shop owners. Does it make sense to attach a return label with every shipment? Either way, processing returns can quickly become costly.
Returns are especially expensive if the attached labels are not being used. Thus, a returns portal is a valuable extension to your shop. Customers can process the return themselves and even chose their preferred shipping service provider. This way, the return label is only printed when needed.
You can create an even better customer experience and strengthen your brand if you implement a returns portal into the look & feel of your online shop. This way you ensure that your customers don't get lost in the websites of external providers, e. g. DHL. Through individually designed tracking pages and your returns portal, you can maintain a better customer journey:
You can create your own returns portal using the shipcloud connector from our Community Store or a similar plugin.