Returns can erode into a retailer's profits, especially online retailers. Return rates for brick and mortar stores average around 9% whereas they can amount to as much as 50% of purchases for online retailers. That adds up quickly when you take into consideration the manpower needed to restock the items as well as the shipping costs.
Return rates are a crucial metric for online retailers. A high return rate could imply that product descriptions and images on your website are not accurate or detailed enough. Another source could be the warehouse team. Problems arise when the incorrect size, color, or style is shipped.
The largest contributor to high return rates is the simple fact that online shoppers are unable to try on clothing, test an item, or see its more intricate details prior to purchase. While not all of these options can be remedied, there are steps online retailers can take in order to reduce their return rates.
Offer free returns.
This sounds counter intuitive, right? Returns cost money up front, they are typically good for profits in the long run. Online retailers saw a 357% increase in sales when they offered free returns. That is because free returns foster consumer loyalty and encourage shoppers to order more. Free returns ease the hesitation that comes along with ordering clothing online. Shoppers order more because they are not afraid of being burned by the return policy if they do not like the clothing or if it does not fit.
Increase the amount of sizing information for each product.
Upping the amount and quality of sizing information on an ecommerce website addresses many of the hesitations consumers have about not being able to physically see or try on a product before purchase. It also enables the consumer to make a more informed purchase decision- lowering your return rates. There are a number of steps an online retailer can take to enhance the sizing information on their website.
- Put quality, easy to understand sizing guides on each product page.
- Integrate sizing tools like Virtusize.
- Provide model sizing information.
- Allow customer feedback. When seeking feedback, ask the user for their sizing information so they can give feedback on the fit. Rent the Runway does a fantastic job of this by giving users the option of posting sizing information, a photo, and their feedback.
This one is fairly self explanatory. In order to lower your return rates, understanding what is being returned and why is crucial. There are several return management software options out there designed specifically for ecommerce websites.
Get a bulk shipping contract with a carrier.
Review your logistics strategy.
Utilizing the right order management software. It is a good idea to evaluate multiple software platforms in order to find the features that address the needs of both your customers and your business. When all else fails, bring in a 3rd party logistics expert.