With the holiday season right around the corner, it could be a good time to revisit your return policy. According to Commerce Hub 66% of individuals check out a sites return policy before buying. What does your return policy say about your brand or more like your tolerance? Do shoppers feel confidant about spending money at your store? And do shoppers on your site frequently complete the sale? Chances are you’ve played around with your return policy once or twice and most likely it’s this experience that has led you to your current policy. That all makes sense, except this.
“82% of the individuals who read the return policy before making a purchase online said they will not buy from a site that doesn’t offer free returns.”
source: Commerce Hub
To sum it up, let out some slack on your customers leash, and do it with a smile whilst cashing in on the action! It’s a deal breaker. It will eat into your margins, but you’ll have enough of it to cover your losses and then some. If you still think you should play it safe, I won’t hold it against you. But free returns do appear to be a motivator for a large and growing sector. Make the change just in time for the holidays if your thinking of making a change at all. Or sit this one out and just see how it goes.
Making a purchase online is a risk no matter how lenient a return policy is. “What if’s” will threaten any sale, especially online. No amount of “free return shipping” can save every one. The key is to just win more of them.
Don’t worry, you got this!
A mere 8.89% of retail store orders are returned versus a 30% return rate online. Processing returns also seems to go much quicker at the store level when compared to it’s virtual counterpart, but that’s just a personal experience not necessarily the case as Amazon seems to be cutting thru some virtual barriers and turning us all into champion spenders!
Some of the Barriers to Making a Sale Online are:
- Web store does not offer free return shipping
- Vague product detail – questions unanswered
- No refunds given, only store credit
- Will it be as expected? – Provide a plethora of information about each product including reviews from people who have purchased it previously
- Will it fit? – Provide details on how it fits. Ask reviewers to provide this information
- Immediate gratification-This is ware(hah!) only the fancy red brick and mortar store can deliver!
- Stock outages. – Easily managed with inventory management software
Ways to Lower Your Return Average
Everybody wants information only in this case it’s for good reason. Provide every detail you can think of about your products. Leave shoppers full of information and no stone un-turned. Close ups of the fabric to give a sense of how it feels along with descriptive text to appeal to our sense of touch and feel. Most importantly provide “additional details” about the garment that is helpful to a shopper. Does it shrink when you wash it? How is the fit, small, large or true to size? Providing as many details as possible will ensure two things. First, it will help cut down on returns if you decide to be more lenient with your return policy. Second, it will help ensure that those buyers who are on the fence will actually make it over or prevent a purchase that will later be returned.
Some Added Details For Inquisitive Types
“The ones asking the most questions are the ones closest to buying….”
- Does it run large, small, or neither/true to size?
- Does it shrink if thrown in the dryer?
- Should it be turned inside out when washing to combat fabric fade
- What does the fabric feel like or compare to (if fabric is something obscure)
- Does the Fabric have a blend of spandex to hold it’s shape
- Demonstration of different ways to wear it (Example: scarves)
- Can you wash? dry clean only? dryer?
- Provide Social Proof – What are other people saying about it? (I should’ve put this as number 1)
Mirror the In-Store Experience Online
Sound impossible? Not really. In a retail store, customers can ask questions about the products and get immediate answers – to help ease or overcome any objections. Bringing that experience online could mean installing a chat feature on your website. Customers could then reach out with questions as they browse. I would consider putting a button or text link like “Ask a Question” next to each product as a reminder of that option. Don’t worry you are not required to be available 24/7 to answer someone’s question at 3:00 am. But advanced chat features will allow you to receive submissions on your cell phone so you can respond from anywhere to your shoppers, even when it may be after the bell has rung for the night….you have to earn some loyalty the hard way.
Start taking full advantage of your ability to conduct your business from anywhere. Even your inventory management software should provide this convenience nowadays. There I just freed up some extra time for you to burn on your customers when they have a question. It will go a long way for closing future sales, especially online. Building trust on the web is lot trickier than it looks but a considerable effort should be made obtaining it from your market sector.
Never too Much Info For Product Descriptions
Have you ever read a product description and thought “Gee, that was just way too much information?” Probably not. Why? Because online, it’s never too much. We just aren’t fulfilled online, and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing necessarily. I think at times, it’s that element of mystery that aides in finally converting someone on your website. They may even say – “Well I’ll just try it once and see….” Be sure what they see is speed, accuracy, and hassle free shopping, and you’ve just landed yourself a loyal buyer. Your goal is to give shoppers every little detail you can think of by accurately representing products. Try providing 3 dimensional views of your products, or maybe a front and back view to help replace some of the sensory lost online. Close-ups of the fabric or color swatches are also helpful as well as describing colors vividly and accurately. Yes this does get tricky when perceptions are all over the board. Stick to common nuances like Kelly Green, or Cherry Red. Not many could argue with those. How does the fabric feel? Descriptive text here that can give one the truest sense of the product goes a long way here. Try taking shots at a distance and then also closer in. And as always, videos are boss – providing the closest look available online. Don’t miss out on a magnificent way to advertise. If you’ve got them, flaunt them.
Install a Rating System
The best method for providing invaluable data for your shoppers however is thru a 5 star rating system. Hearing it from other customers makes it that much more powerful too!. Allowing customers the ability to upload an image can also help others make a buying decision. Don’t worry, you will have some that didn’t like it and will say so but those are equally powerful so be sure they stay put. The negative reviews give all of them authenticity, yep believe it or not they build trust.