How To Stop
‘The Returns Revolving Door’

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On July 21, 2022 by Josh Arrowsmith
Explore more: Experiences & Industry Insights | Case Studies | Testimonials

Customer returns in 2022 - Effective strategies to minimise return volume

Returns…The word is enough to send a collective shiver down the eCommerce spine. Returns are a costly pain in the backside, and if you accumulate too many of them, returns carry enough weight to send you under.

It can feel like a slow revolving door – with goods shipping out, only to turn up again after a week or so. However, much can be done in the hopes of reducing a high number of returns, ensuring that the ratio of products going out is significantly higher to that of the products coming back in.

If this sounds like an issue that you have been experiencing in your own business, and are trying to find the most effective tips and strategies that are guaranteed to minimise overall volume of returns, this article is definitely for you.

Obviously, it’s impossible to eliminate returns completely. That being said however, there are some valuable insights and experiences in which I have learnt first-hand since working in third-party logistics, which I believe will be beneficial for anyone reading this article.

In my experience, there are five key practices that must be carried out correctly in order for businesses to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. These practices are listed below:

Comprehensive product descriptions

1. Give Comprehensive Product Descriptions

COVID has changed buying habits for good. It’s predicted that 55% of total sales will be online in 2022, with many bricks and mortar stores acting as mini-distribution centres for online sales. So, it’s imperative that you have an intuitively built website that provides a positive and easy customer experience.

There are many aspects to a customer-friendly website, but one thing that’s crucial for preventing returns is good product descriptions. When people don’t really know what they’re getting – they are more likely to send it back. One recent report found that 40% of consumers had returned something in the last year due to poor product descriptions. This means that better product descriptions can have a big impact on return rates.

The key to writing a good product description is by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, and to think of the questions that they’d be asking – then answer them. Also, look at the reasons given for past returns and try and head them off in the description. Video reviews can also help and using influencers to do these will increase views. In addition, technology can even be used to show consumers how a product will look before the customer has to commit to a purchase, for instance, how furniture will look in their home, or how an item of clothing will look when they wear it.

If you want to see examples of good product descriptions, head over to Asos – who do a great job in this area.

FAQ

2. Beef Up Your FAQ Page

Despite websites becoming easier to use, many companies still treat FAQ’s as an afterthought. But a good FAQ page can save you a lot of time and money by preventing returns. The key is to look at the most common questions your customer support team receives, then answer them in your FAQ’s. And don’t forget to direct your customers to your FAQ page from both your product listings and from your checkout pages within your website.

How you format the page is also important. Each question should have a dropdown answer directly beneath each heading, enabling each customer to both reveal and hide the answers on click, thus promoting positive audience engagement. This means people are more likely to see the question they need answering. Scroll to the bottom of our own eCommerce service pages for an example of this.  

Customer Support

3. Make It Easy For People To Contact You

Your team can often stop a return from happening by addressing customer concerns. So, make this as easy as possible with multiple support contact options – email, online chat, and phone.

If you have international customers, then 24/7 online chat is an essential feature that your website should already be offering, as this shows that you are available to answer any live queries that a potential customer may have at any time. We use a service called Tawk.to, but there are plenty more out there. LiveChat, Zendesk, and Olark all have good reputations. It’s just a question of finding a service that’s right for your business.

Fast Delivery

4. Get Your Orders Out Quicker

It’s a simple rule that the sooner people get stuff, the happier they are – so make your order preparation and dispatch as quick as possible. Of course that’s not always easy, especially if you’re a smaller business or a start-up, but you can outsource the process through something like our fulfilment service.

This means you can set later cut-off times for next-day delivery and save money through economies of scale, as costs such as postage and packing material are reduced.

Track Delivery

5. Keep Your Customers Informed

Returns often happen as customers are expecting something that doesn’t arrive when it should. When it finally gets there, they’re far more likely to return – as they are annoyed.

Of course, delays happen – that’s the reality of ecommerce, but if your customers know where the package is, they’ll be happier, thus less likely to return. At Finishing Line, our own developers have built a unique, cloud-based warehouse management system called Tenevo, which automatically sends out messages at every stage; order processing, product storage, pick & pack assembly, and delivery dispatch, in order to keep customers informed throughout the entire journey, from production line to the Finishing Line.

It is in our best interest that we deliver you the most effective practices that eCommerce companies are using to combat customer return rates, as you too can apply these same essential strategies within your own eCommerce business, in order to drive customer satisfaction, and significantly reduce your customer returns in 2022.

If this article has been informative and has provided you with the right knowledge that you have been looking for, we can go even further, by talking you through the experiences that ourselves here at Finishing Line have gained since 1987, to see if we’d be a good fit for your next project in either ecommerce fulfilment, returns management, contract packing or warehouse management.

Please get in touch with us, send a live chat message, or call +44 (0)1268 498 950

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Josh Arrowsmith

Head of Commercial & Strategy

josh.arrowsmith@finishingline.co.uk