#ReturnsHappen: How to Prevent Buyer’s Remorse This Holiday Season
News Flash: Buyer’s Remorse is real. As many as 40% of products ordered online will be returned to the seller this holiday season, in the aftermath of what’s shaping up to be a record-setting haul for ecommerce’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping holidays.
Last year, this resulted in UPS processing more than 1.4 million returns on ecommerce purchases in a single day, a number that will increase this year as consumers flock to the horde of online deals being offered, lured by the promise of free shipping and easy returns from America’s largest online retailers.
All told, National Returns Day, held during the first Friday after New Year’s Day, will result in around 2 million returns being processed, earmarking an estimated 7-10 million returns that will flood back into retailers’ warehouses during the first 10 days of January, 2019.
Selling online means that you’ll deal with returns. But that doesn’t mean they have to overwhelm you. Use these tips to reduce the impact of returns and prevent buyer’s remorse this holiday season.
What is Buyer’s Remorse?
Anyone who shops online has experienced buyer’s remorse. This happens when you make an online purchase and are dissatisfied with what you’ve received. It can occur for a number of reasons, but the most common include:
- Apparel product didn’t fit
- Product isn’t as advertised
- Consumer feels as if they overspent
- The purchase was financed
It’s important to keep in mind that studies find that most returns aren’t due to buyer’s remorse.
In fact, 44% of all returns are caused by the following:
- 22% of returns are due to a defective product
- 22% of returns are due to the wrong item being shipped
Hard-Hitting Facts About Product Returns
With more than 33% of all ecommerce products being sent back to retailers, it’s important to understand that facts feeding returns.
- 80% of shoppers are deterred by an inconvenient returns process: The easier you make your returns process, the more sales you’ll draw. Most shoppers don’t want to do business with companies that make returns hard. By making your policy easy, you’ll gain more loyal shoppers.
- 66% of customers read return policies: Don’t assume that all your clients are going to read your return policy. Just 66% of shoppers read the entire thing before making a purchase.
- 79% of shoppers want free return shipping: 79% of shoppers want free return shipping on items they no longer want or need. If you don’t offer them this amenity, they’ll take their business somewhere else in the future.
Understanding these statistics about ecommerce returns can put you in a better position to counter buyer’s remorse this holiday season. There are some simple steps you can take that go a long way in reducing returns, improving loyalty and helping you sell more products that don’t come back for restocking after the holiday rush.
Offer the Perfect Fit for Apparel
Ecommerce apparel sales are at an all-time high but also suffer from the highest rate of returns across the board. Studies find that as much as 40% of apparel orders are sent back to retailers due to one common reason: the fit wasn’t right.
While apparel returns are the highest in the industry, clothing is relatively easy to restock and therefore does have a high resale rate once returned, helping retailers reduce losses from excessive returns. But preventing these returns in the first place is streamlined with the right technology.
Case in point: ASOS is a popular online apparel retailer that features more than 60,000 products, offers an easy return policy and uses an integrated sizing app to help shoppers find the perfect fit. Since integrating their Virtusize virtual sizing app into the product pages of their store, ASOS has reported a whopping 50% decline in returns overall.
Seeing technology like this in motion is telling. Taking the time to update your online store with options that help customers find the right fit the first time not only slashes your return rate considerably (because nobody is sending back products that fit great), but also improves customer loyalty and retention.
If you’re thinking that an update like this would be too cost prohibitive, think again. You can easily find sizing apps in the respective App Stores for Shopify, BigCommerce and in the Plugins section for WordPress and WooCommerce stores.
Offer Reviews, Questions & Answers
Making returns easy is just one part of the equation. Combined with sizing charts and apps, you’ll have a one-two punch formula for knocking out returns. While both are viable additions that give your store two more great amenities to offer, another way you can stem the tide of returns is by adding product reviews, questions and answers to your store’s product pages.
One way that this helps you is because reviews can improve trust by 90% and help your customers find products that they don’t send back. Another way it helps is that 92% of shoppers will read a review or a questions and answers feed before they purchase a product. Doing so also helps them determine whether the product is right for them.
As you can see from this Amazon screenshot that we’ve added above, this apparel item has a consistent 5-star rating and ample reviews. But the Questions and Answers sections is also popping.
A quick look at how customers are communicating tells us that not only do customers rely on reviews to make a purchasing decision that doesn’t result in buyer’s remorse, but they also rely on the questions and answers section to ensure that they’re making a smart decision that won’t result in a return (even though Amazon has one of the best return policies in the business).
As with adding a sizing app to your online store, you may be wondering what type of cost this would incur? The good news is that most online shopping carts already offer them as built-in features. For example: 3dcart features built-in questions and answers, Shopify offers an app for it, BigCommerce also has an App for it, and there are extensions for WooCommerce stores, too.
Provide Order By Info for Holiday Shoppers
Buyer’s remorse isn’t just caused by the aforementioned; it can also be the result of a product arriving after the holidays. Business Insider reports that even when packages from popular marketplace Amazon are delivered late, shoppers still remain customers (for the most part). But for most other online stores that don’t offer the benefits of the Prime membership, shoppers don’t have much keeping them loyal should their holiday gifts be delivered later than expected.
Stores like Target, for example, which has had to increasingly adapt to the ever-changing ecommerce landscape while balancing a brick and mortar empire alongside of its ecommerce presence, is taking things a step further. And we can all borrow a page out of how this retailer tackles the holiday order by conundrum.
To prevent returns, Target updates all product pages in real-time with order-by stamps. This helps shoppers know when to buy the product to have them delivered in time for the holidays. Target takes things a step further by incorporating real-time tracking on existing orders. Of course, the retailer stands by their hassle-free returns policy and free two-day shipping during the holidays (with free economy shipping offered other times of the year).
#ReturnsHappen – So Make Them Easy!
No matter how you slice it, returns are going to happen; they’re just a part of doing business online. Buyer’s remorse occurs whether you’re selling shoes, electrics, sporting goods, and just about anything else online. Shoppers will remember if you made it hard to return, and they’ll shop somewhere else in the future if the process is unfriendly. That’s why stores like Land’s End take the stance of making returns as easy and tireless as possible for their customers.
Progressive online retailers know that returns are unavoidable. They also know that by integrating a few of the features that we’ve talked about here, in combination with offering a hassle-free returns policy, they’ll keep customers coming back for new purchases even if they return something here and there along the way.
Leading retailer Kohl’s also knows what customers want from an online return policy and they, too, offer one of the most generous policies in the industry. The stance these retailers and countless others have taken is simple: 80% of customers want easy returns or they won’t shop at your online store again.
So, do what you can to reduce returns along the way while offering a convenient process for customers to send items back. Certainly, buyer’s remorse will strike here and there. But for most customers, this is offset by the countless future orders they’ll be placing that don’t result in a product being sent back to you.
In closing, stop looking at returns as a pain point and start seeing them as a way to improve loyalty, retention and profits for your online store.
Need even more tips? We’ve got you covered with this awesome infographic!