The Dreaded Customer Returns Strategies That Can Help Reduce Returns

Reducing return rates

The Dreaded Customer Returns Strategies That Can Help Reduce Returns

Online retailers know there’s no way to completely avoid returns, they are a part of the online shopping experience. How you choose to manage (or battle as some would say) them can have a drastic impact on the success of your business.

But before we go too far down the road of how you can handle the dilemma of returns, let’s take a quick glance at the numbers provided by the National Retail Federation

  • An estimated $428 billion of merchandise was returned in 2020
  • $102 billion of merchandise returned in 2020 was originally purchased through online retailers
  • 12.2% of merchandise returned in 2020 was apparel 

While it may be difficult to embrace the situation, online retailers don’t have much of a choice. So let’s see if we can find some potential ways to at least ease the effect.

Customer Personas

In every business you have personas, right? Let’s look at some of the different personas that exist for your shoppers who make returns. We can place similar shoppers into buckets or audiences to help us designate which persona that most align with.

  • Unhappy with the product received. We hope this is a small audience for you. Ideally you want every customer to love everything they buy on your site, but sometimes that’s not the case. However, you can keep this audience small by producing high quality products and ensuring the images and descriptions provided on your retail website are accurate.
  • Not sure about sizing. You can provide all the sizing charts in the world and shoppers will still be unsure which size is going to fit them best. Maybe they’re in between sizes or more comfortable in a smaller/larger size depending on the style of clothing they’re purchasing. You know you have customers who will buy multiple sizes of the same item, fully intending to return at least one of them.
  • Items received were damaged. We know sometimes this is out of your control. If the service delivering the items isn’t careful or leaves the package sitting in a puddle and it ruins the contents, you can’t control that. However, if the item is damaged at the warehouse during fulfillment, you may have a situation you need to address.

So now that we know who is returning their purchases, what next?

How to Solve for Returns

Strategies to Reduce Return Rates

Develop Optimal Return Policies

If you’ve heard us say it once, you’ve heard us say it 100 times. Technology. By collecting the data from your buyers and their activity you can formulate the optimal return policy available for your online shoppers.

Yes, you could create a return policy and just wait to see how it works. But why waste your time and possibly your profits? Whether you purchase the technology directly and have your internal team analyze it or you hire a third-party partner to help, you have the data you need. You just need to get access to it (if you don’t already) to make an informed decision.

Predictive Analytics

All right, that was just one way you can use technology on your retail website to help alleviate the burden of returns. With the use of predictive analytics you can customize the experience a customer receives. 

Identify online shoppers who have returned more items than they’ve kept. Or new shoppers you may want to entice into placing a purchase with the offer of free returns. Or shoppers who have a high rate of returns, but also keep more than they return. 

Some retailers, Zappos for example, have found that customers who return the most also purchase and KEEP the most. According to the authors of “Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making & Cases” Zappos states their customers with the highest return rates are also their most profitable customers. In Zappos’ case, they’ve opted to keep free returns for all customers based on this data.

You’re not the only one who knows returns are going to happen, so does your shopper. According to the Narvar Consumer Report, Making Returns a Competitive Advantage, 95% of respondents said they would shop at a retailer again after having a positive returns experience. The only thing worse than online shoppers returning purchases is online shoppers returning purchases and then never returning to your retail website to make another purchase because they had a negative experience making a return.

Creating a positive return experience doesn’t have to be painful for you either. Retailers who have built their online retail site on Shopify have a variety of applications to choose from that can help!

Improve Sizing Accuracy

The last idea we want to discuss is reducing the amount of returns based on sizing issues by improving the accuracy of a purchase. We know this won’t completely eliminate the return of items that don’t fit correctly, shoppers return items due to fit even when they’ve had the chance to try them on before they purchase them. But let’s see if we can at least reduce the number of returns.

Try going beyond the typical size chart with a fit quiz. Based on the knowledge you have about your products and how they fit, build out a quiz that asks questions that go deeper than simple measurements to help shoppers better decide which size would be best for them.

This could also be a great solution if you’re a CPG retailer. By incorporating a quiz into your shoppers’ buying experience, you can help guide them to the right product. Again, you know your products best, help your shoppers find the item (or items) that will fill their needs by asking them what their needs are. 

Returns will continue to be a part of the shopping experience, you and I are guilty of it as well. However, implementing one or two new strategies can help alleviate the pain for both you and your shopper.

6 Post Holiday Online Shopping Tactics to Boost Ecommerce Sales

Post Holiday

The holiday shopping season is one of the most profitable times of the year for ecommerce businesses. Most online retailers exceedingly meet their main ecommerce KPIs, and smaller brands can generate profitable sums against their big box store competitors.  

The 2021 holiday shopping season was a gift to ecommerce retailers. According to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, from November 1 to Cyber Monday on November 29, US consumers spent $109.8 billion online, up 11.9% from 2020. Adobe also found 22 days in November 2021 exceeded $3 billion in online spending compared to only 9 days hitting that number the same month in 2020. 

Those figures are even more notable considering the supply chain issues retailers everywhere are facing and the fact many shoppers started their gift shopping in October.

But now that the wrapping paper has been cleaned up and holiday decorations put away, how do ecommerce retailers keep the momentum going in January and beyond?

“On average, January revenue is usually predicted to be 20% to 65% lower versus December,” says Anh Vu-Lieberman,Vice President for ecommerce at Nogin. However, savvy brands can plan for this traditionally softer sales period (which can last until the third or fourth week of January) and use this time to do a brand reset while refocusing for the coming year.

Vu-Lieberman discusses some of the strategies ecommerce retailers can use to boost their bottom lines.

1. Get Dialed in to Mobile

“As smartphones keep evolving and improving, all ecommerce retailers have to be mobile-first,” Vu-Lieberman says. In fact, research shows smartphones accounted for 44% of all online sales on Black Friday in 2021, up 10.6% from 2020 Black Friday shopping. Delivering positive customer experiences starts with delivering consistent omni-channel tactics. Mobile is increasingly becoming a more and more popular shopping medium for customers. It’s crucial businesses focus on mobile responsive web design to convert mobile shoppers through their ecommerce marketing funnel.

2. Extend End-of-Year Sales

The calendar may have already flipped to 2022, but ecommerce retailers who want to drive customers and conversions are extending into their traditional year closeout sales in January. Sale-on-sale promotions can be a great strategy to move out inventory and make way for new collections that launch in mid-January.

Check out our top three strategies to increase conversions and the best pricing tactics to utilize on your site:

3. Choose Words Carefully

Certain words are triggers for ecommerce shoppers, such as “favorite” or “best seller.” “If you don’t know a brand and it’s your first time going to the site, the word ‘best seller’ evokes an emotion,” Vu-Lieberman says. “If you didn’t have that, you wouldn’t know what the brand is about. It also helps with building out purchase affirmation.”

Another recommended strategy to utilize in marketing campaigns to message your Best Sellers is to feature highly-rated products or most-loved products, whether on your website or social. Make sure to set up your marketing analytics and perform A/B tests to see which product listing phrases result in the most sales.

4. Add Installment Plan Options

Retailers offering installment payment plans such as Afterpay and Klarna target online shoppers looking for a discount and customers who don’t mind paying for expensive items out of their normal price range. Surprisingly, it’s not just millennials on limited budgets who find installment plans attractive; Vu-Lieberman says one of the brands she works with discovered the average age of its Afterpay customers was 44. “Even though the item is full price, it will be more attractive advertising it on Facebook or paid search as ‘Take this home for $39.’ People focus on that installment number rather than the full number.”

5. Don’t Overlook the Present for the Future

While fashion retailers prep for new collection launches in January, it may be easy to forget that ecommerce trends more towards a buy now, wear now attitude. Especially with the cold weather in most parts of the country, customers may not have as much interest in summery resort wear that will sit in their closet for a few months, compared to a pair of boots they will use immediately. 

Vu-Lieberman says brands will often take a new year, new you approach. For example, promotions geared towards New Year’s resolutions can focus on athletic wear, or retailers can craft campaigns for new looks for the office. Luxury ecommerce brands can also try to leverage celebrity collaborations to help support their brand image.

6. Build a Strong Customer Base

Brands need to strike that fine balance between catering to loyal VIPs and bringing in new customers. That can take time and money—Vu-Lieberman says brands can spend up to 25% of projected revenue on advertising—but it’s a substantial investment in the long run. To make it pay off, ensure your shoppers are receiving a positive user experience when visiting your site all the way through order fulfillment. 

So how are you going to keep the momentum going throughout the year?

Headless Commerce: Part 1—The Evolving State of E-Commerce

Nogin & Coresight

Nogin and Coresight Research have partnered on a three-part report series, Headless Commerce, to explore the emerging commerce-as-a-service (CaaS) space in the US and the key trends in the market.

This report leverages findings from an October 2021 Coresight Research survey of e-commerce leaders in the US to identify the key challenges and benefits in building and using e-commerce infrastructure and tools.

In this report, Coresight’s analysis and insights cover the following topics:

  • The impact of, and retailers’ response to, the Covid-19 pandemic
  • The evolution of commerce and the e-commerce infrastructure landscape
  • The move to headless commerce—including survey respondents’ satisfaction with their existing platforms, the obstacles to adopting CaaS solutions and retailer readiness for CaaS across different business areas

This free report is sponsored by Nogin, CaaS full-stack e-commerce platform that includes R&D (research and development), sales optimization, machine learning, and AI (artificial intelligence)-driven marketing and fulfillment.

You can download the report for free here.

NEWS | Silipint Shifts Online Store to Nogin Intelligent Commerce

Nogin SiliPint

Fast-growing maker of 100 percent-silicone tableware and other products leverages Nogin’s innovative Commerce-as-a-Service approach to optimize online store performance, add AI and decrease costs.

Silipint, the Bend, Oregon-based maker of silicone drinkware, tableware and other products, has moved its online store to Nogin’s Commerce-as-a-Service (CaaS) platform. The shift will enable the fast-growing CPG brand to deliver best-in-class ecommerce to its clientele, as well as increase sales, profits and conversion rates, and execute R&D upgrades in real-time.

Rick Fredland, Founder and CEO of Silipint, which is known for its unbreakable, safe and eco-friendly products, said the company turned to Nogin after a disappointing trial run with a lower-end SMB ecommerce platform. “In working with Nogin, we’re gaining access to leading-edge AI, predictive analytics and R&D that will give our customers a superior ecommerce experience.”

Under the agreement, Tustin-based Nogin will handle all aspects of Silipint’s ecommerce operations, ramping up the manufacturer’s online performance with its Intelligent Commerce software, AI-driven marketing capabilities and high-touch digital services.

 “Leveraging our cloud services and experts, layered on top of the Intelligent Commerce Platform, allows Silipint to scale with demand generated by a platform that is always learning and optimizing,” said Jan-Christopher Nugent, CEO of Nogin.

From a business standpoint, Nogin’s Intelligent Commerce software, people and process can translate into benefits such as reduced free shipping and fulfillment costs, more efficient media spend, higher conversion rates, stronger gross margin, and more.

“Just as Amazon Web Services was revolutionary for on-demand cloud-hosting, the Nogin platform is a game-changer in ecommerce,” said Nugent, who notes that Nogin has also delivered Commerce as a Service for such major brands as Honeywell, Hurley, Bebe, Lululemon, True Religion, Yeezy and Charming Charlie.

Silipint, which now has more than 500 employees, is growing quickly for several reasons, Fredland said. “Both consumers and the businesses that cater to them are increasingly interested in using drinkware, tableware and other products that are 100 percent sustainable,” he noted. “We also make the world’s only all-silicone, unbreakable pint glass, which is in high demand given the prevalence of outdoor dining and events.” 

To learn more about Nogin’s Intelligent Commerce Platform and how it can help transform your ecommerce business, simply fill out the form below.

Top Tech Trends Reshaping eCommerce in 2021 and Beyond

Tech Trends of 2021

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a big shift happening in the eCommerce space — consumer shopping habits are changing! As consumers continue to gravitate towards the convenient and seamless experience of shopping online in a post-pandemic world, eCommerce companies have been forced to adapt to remain competitive. Let’s look at some of the top tech trends you need to watch out for in 2021 and beyond.

Top Tech Trends in eCommerce

According to a study by Adobe, the eCommerce industry is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2022 in the US. Due to the lasting impacts of the pandemic, consumers are now more willing to shop their favorite brands online instead of brick-and-mortar stores. (This is great news for eCommerce stores!) 

Whether it be through optimizing a digital marketing strategy or improving the overall customer experience, eCommerce companies must be willing to flex with the changing times to stay ahead. Here are some of the top trends you need to know as an eCommerce retailer.

Augmented Reality is Creating an Interactive Shopping Experience

With online shopping becoming the norm, augmented reality (also known as virtual reality or mixed reality) is the next big thing in eCommerce. Many sites are already using it to great effect in creating an immersive experience for customers. 

In the past, customers could only virtually access products using headsets like the GearVR or Oculus Rift; however, with the help of augmented reality technology, consumers can access most goods using a smartphone, tablet, or even desktop. 

As more companies continue to adopt augmented reality,  customers can easily use their devices to check out what a product looks like before purchasing. Some examples of companies who already use augmented reality include:

  • Ikea – With the Ikea Place app, users can virtually place true-to-scale pieces of furniture in their home to see if it will fit in a certain place. Not sure if the nightstand will match a room? Users can also use the app to see if a specific piece of furniture  matches the rest of the furniture!
  • L’Oreal – The L’Oreal Makeup app allows users to virtually try on makeup to see if certain makeup items would look good on them or not. This app makes it easy for consumers to shop without having to leave the comfort of their home. 
  • Warby Parker – Eyeglasses company Warby Parker has an app where consumers can try on different glasses styles by swiping through their collection while holding the camera close to their face. As a bonus, the company even allows customers to select a few glasses to try on in real life too — for free! Pretty cool right?

Fun Fact: Did you know that only 1% of retailers are using AR in the customer buying experience? For eCommerce brands, this is one great way to get ahead of the competition while increasing post-purchase satisfaction rates.

4 Tech Trends Infographic
4 Tech Trend Infographic

Chatbots are Improving the Customer Experience

Chatbots have been a huge gamechanger for digital storefronts. They allow companies to communicate with customers in a more personalized manner while increasing conversions. 

Chatbots can perform tasks like answering customer queries, resolving problems, or fetching product information from the website 24/7. If a chatbot cannot resolve a certain customer problem, the chatbot will then redirect the user to a live agent to help them out further. By using chatbots, companies can see an improved ROI and customer satisfaction rate while decreasing overall customer service costs. This is why so many companies today are adopting chatbot technology to grow their business. 

Fun Fact: Studies show that 69% of consumers prefer chatbots because of their ability to provide quick replies to simple questions. (This just goes to show that this is one trend you won’t want to overlook!)

Social Shopping is Paving the Way

Another trend to watch out for is social shopping. Social shopping is one of the fastest-growing avenues of revenue for eCommerce companies today. The rise of social media  and the ease of sharing information has made shopping on social media a reality for billions of consumers around the world. 

Retailers are realizing that consumers want to make informed decisions on what they purchase and where they shop. And, social shopping features through Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms have made it easy for consumers to shop for new and exciting products without having to leave their favorite social media platforms. With the help of social shopping features, online shopping has truly never been easier. Social shopping will be one trend in particular that will continue to drive revenue upward for both small and large businesses for years to come. 
Fun Fact: 84% of shoppers research a product via social media before purchasing.

Artificial Intelligence and Your eCommerce Store

Consumers don’t only want a personalized brand experience, they expect it. And, Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables retailers to take their brand experience to the next level through crafting a tailored experience that’s unique to the end-user.  

How? AI systems can bring personalization to life through scanning a user’s website search history, preferences, and other buying patterns to give customers product recommendations before they even know what they are looking for. Companies can then use AI to cross-sell and up-sell customers on other products leading to a higher ROI. It’s a win-win for both the consumer and the company.

Dominate the eCommerce Space with Nogin

Sometimes trends should stay trends, but when it comes to the tech trends we highlighted above, you won’t want to overlook any of them. Augmented reality, artificial intelligence, chatbot technology, and social shopping are the now. And, you have the option to either change with the times or stay behind. It’s your choice. What lengths will you go to improve your overall customer experience?

Want to dominate the market? Prep your eCommerce business for exponential growth, profit, and retention by checking out the Nogin Intelligent Suite.

ld

Ryan Gould
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services

Elevation Marketing

From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations.

Ryan is known for taking complex marketing and business challenges and developing solutions that simplify processes while driving customer outcomes and business value. He also thrives on guiding Elevation teams toward execution of strategies that help companies succeed in new verticals, while staying true to core values and brand integrity.

The 3 Ultimate Online Retail Pricing Strategies to Increase Sales

retail-pricing-strategies

How important is pricing to your e-commerce business? Considering that 80% of people say that the most important aspect of shopping at a store is competitive pricing, the answer to the question is “very important.”

Implementing a tremendous retail pricing strategy will dramatically help entice visitors to click “add to cart.” We have some great techniques to increase your online storefront profitability for emerging ecommerce titans or companies with multi-million dollar annual revenues. Let’s discuss the key terms you need to know and our top strategies to dominant your ecommerce competitors and optimize your listings for profitability. 

What’s Retail Pricing?

Many factors determine retail pricing. However, it would be best to consider the cost of the item and the markup percentage you make to determine the net profits for any item. Use the following formula to decide on your ideal retail price:

Retail Price = [(Manufacturing cost of item) / (100-markup percentage)] x 100

For example, if your product costs $1.00 to manufacture and you hope to make a 75% profit, your ideal retail price would be:

[(1.00) / (100-75)] x 100 = $4.00

What Are Your Retail Pricing Objectives?

Although selling as much inventory and making the most profit is the most apparent pricing objective for any company, there are many other goals to pursue when setting your retail cost. A small business may offer a heavily discounted price as part of a paid promotion to get more traffic to their website, increase market share, and obtain new customers in their CRM. They may also offer a discounted price to move old inventory and increase sales volume. 

Some of the most common retail pricing objectives include:

  • Pricing for Profit: A price point that maximizes long-run or short-run profitability. 
  • Survival: Setting a price for survival. Businesses may need to accept short-term losses to increase sales and cover essential operating costs. Once the business weathers the storm, they can return to higher price points. 
  • Increase Market Share: If a business is trying to maximize customers and take business awareness from competitors. A company can measure its market share by comparing its sales to all other competitors in the same industry. Sellers may employ a penetration strategy to purposely lower price points to entice price-sensitive buyers and gain market share. Once you gain more customers, it’s imperative to maximize your customers’ lifetime value through upsells. 
  • Competitive Matching: If sellers sell a product that other businesses sell, they may have to set a price that matches their competitors or is below their price point. For instance, if your company sells a particular product for $5 and a competitor sells it for $4.50, you will have to lower your price or provide additional value to entice your audience. 

Before setting your price, make sure you have identified the product’s objectives in relation to your business to reach your goals. 

What is Optimal Price?

The optimal price is a price point that helps sellers maximize profits. It takes some experimentation to figure out the ideal price point for an item. Selling at a heavily discounted price will help you move more inventory, but your profit margins will be slim. Conversely, if you sell too high, you may have a lot of units sitting around. 

Price optimization is the process of setting a price on an item that strikes the perfect balance—it gives customers a sense of value while giving you a good profit. How your business optimizes prices may be different from how another business does it—there are many factors to consider, including prices at other sites, demand for an item and your company’s sales goals, and the parameters you’ve chosen by which to segment your customer base. Nonetheless, there are some core tenets that all e-retailers should keep in mind when developing a successful price optimization strategy.

How to Calculate Optimal Price Point

First, you’ll need to establish a price range for each item that you sell. How low can it be priced to attract customers without a loss of profit on the sale? Conversely, how high can an item’s price go that isn’t considered too high by shoppers? 

This kind of flexibility helps because price optimization is a fluid, never-ending process. Knowing your parameters allows you to be responsive to demand and change prices quickly when needed. Marketers call this dynamic pricing.

There will also be certain times when you will want to change your prices. Perhaps a competitor has lowered its prices, and you want to remain a viable option for potential shoppers, so you may also drop your prices. You can also adjust prices for sales to make way for new stock and attract new customers. Dynamic pricing can take various factors into account and use specific algorithms to determine the best prices to use at certain times.

Check out this great optimal price calculator to help you find the sweet spot. 

What is Socially Optimal Price?

Every product or service consumed in the world has a societal impact. The social cost of any good includes the sum of two components:

  • The financial costs of consumption, such as delivery, costs of material, and labor. 
  • The societal costs of consumption, including environmental consequences and health impacts. 

Resources are limited, and as they deplete, competition for the remaining resources increase. Sellers must consider the marginal private benefit (MPB) of their goods or the highest price consumers would pay for a unit. The higher the price, the fewer people are willing to consume it. The lower the price, the more consumers are willing to spend money on the goods or services. 

3 Online Retail Pricing Strategies to Optimize Your Ecommerce Listings

pricing-strategy-for-profitability

Online retailers must know their audience and price their products not only to keep them interested but drive them to purchase. 

Use Your Analytics and React To Your Customers’ Behavior

Sellers can leverage many different verticals to reach their audience. Whether it’s a social media campaign or product promotion at Costco, sellers must purposefully test their product and use data and consumer insights to inform their pricing strategies. 

For instance, if they notice that Friday is their most profitable day for a particular item, they could run a social media campaign only on that day to maximize their budget. If they notice that bundling their humidifier with a free bottle of essential oil drastically increases sales in a Costco, they should use the same strategy on their online storefront. 

Your customers’ online shopping habits can also be used in price optimization. Has a particular shirt earned a lot of likes on your social media channels? If the demand is increasing because of this exposure, perhaps the price can be adjusted upwards accordingly. 

Conversely, if you see shoppers are putting a particular item in their cart but not following through on a purchase, you may be able to close the sale with a lower price tag. Some businesses even set prices that are slightly less than a round number, so customers think they are getting a deal.

Track your crucial analytics metrics, such as organic traffic, ROAS, and bounce rate monthly and use it to adjust your marketing campaigns and pricing to maximize sales. Check out our guide on the key ecommerce KPIs metrics to track. 

Leverage Your Layout

The layout of your ecommerce site can also play a role in enhancing price optimization. Product description content should have an action-oriented copy encouraging a purchase, and sellers should showcase the product itself in a “Customer Favorite” or “Buy Now” display. 

Use a ticking clock for prices on a temporary discount to leverage urgency. Infomercials use this strategy on TV to urge viewers to take action and call to take advantage of an offer. Additionally, Include the number of remaining inventory on the page to prompt visitors to purchase before the product is out of stock. It will help position your product as high-demand.

You can also group similar items such as purses together to do a mini-price comparison, highlighting the most popular product. Sellers should always strategize towards the ultimate goal of improving their conversion rate and profitability.

Price Setting

Another important aspect of price optimization is the model used in price setting. Some retailers use the traditional method of adding a markup to their wholesale costs to develop an item’s price. Another pricing model looks at the profit made from selling products in quantity so you can get the desired return on your investment. 

Well-established brands may turn to value-based pricing, which bases the decision to set higher prices on consumers’ trust and relationship with a company. Basically, shoppers will be willing to pay more for the brand they are loyal to than for a similar and cheaper alternative from another brand. And speaking of competitors, it’s always smart to keep an eye on the marketplace and see what other e-commerce sites like yours are selling and how much they are selling it for.

What Are the 3 Types of Pricing Strategies to Profitability?

retail-pricing-strategies-ecommerce

There are many different types of pricing strategies. As we discussed earlier, picking the best one for your product comes down to several factors, including pricing objectives and the socially optimal price. Let’s examine three types of pricing strategies you can use if your main goal is to sell more and make more profit. 

Competitive Pricing

A competitive pricing strategy is a standard approach, and sellers can leverage it differently depending on the products they are pushing. The key to a competitive pricing strategy is to position your product or brand not only different from the competition but superior. 

You must specify and highlight unique selling points (USPs) that separates your product from the rest of the pack. Also, investing in a premium online storefront, graphic design, and packaging can provide a valuable impression on your customers, especially for luxury ecommerce brands. It’s also essential to have stellar onsite customer service to help reduce ecommerce return rates

There are two main types of competitive pricing strategies:

Below Competition Pricing

Pricing below the competition is an excellent way to undercut your competitors’ price to simply position your product as the best possible deal. To leverage this strategy, you must negotiate with your supplier for the lowest possible wholesale price, reduce operating costs, and execute a marketing strategy highlighting the market value. 

A below-competition pricing strategy can sometimes become a sticky situation if your competitors try to retaliate by lowering their price and start a price war. The best way to leverage below competition pricing is to present it as a temporary price to make visitors feel more inclined to purchase and not get accustomed to bargain rates. 

Above Competition (Prestige) Pricing

Above-competition pricing is always ideal for profits, but it only works if you are moving inventory. Sellers must justify higher prices with factors such as exclusivity, superior customer service, elevated brand experience, and scarcity. 

Jewelry is an excellent industry to use prestige pricing, especially if you have sufficiently developed a luxury image. Brands like Tiffany can command higher prices due to their brand’s equity. The diamonds may not necessarily beat the competition in quality, but customers will pay the higher prices due to a sense of prestige. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is your brand’s value. Focus on developing an elevated brand image to charge higher prices and increase profit margins. 

Psychological Pricing

The brain is a mysterious thing, and there are some clever tricks marketers can leverage to price items in a particular way to sell more. Psychological pricing positions a product at a price point that conveys a fair, attractive bargain. Here are several techniques you can apply to help increase sales:

Odd or Charm Pricing

Customers prefer prices that end in odd numbers such as 5, 7, or 9 and trigger impulse buying. It also gives the impression that they are receiving a deal. The most common way retailers leverage this method is to change an item’s price from a whole number, such as $9, to $8.99. The brain interprets the $8.99 as $8 and rounds down, making it appear as a better bargain price. Studies show that when people spend money, they may feel a sense of pain or loss. Retailers can leverage charm pricing to help lessen the cognitive agitation and increase the likelihood their visitors make a purchase. 

In his book Priceless, William Poundstone documents that charm pricing helped increase sales by 24% compared to rounded price points. Additionally, researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago found that the best number to leverage charm pricing is 9. During an experiment, they tested a woman’s clothing item at three different price points: $34, $39, and $44. They discovered that $39 outsold the $34 price point. 

Decoy Effect or Introducing a “Useless” Price

The best example of the decoy effect to price items is at the movie theater. The cinema wants you to purchase as much popcorn as possible, but most people will never finish the large bucket of popcorn at the theater. However, using a useless price will help customers rationalize picking the large size. 

National Geographic conducted a study to prove the effectiveness of the decoy effect. They ran the first test and offered a group of customers the option to purchase a small popcorn for $3 or a large one for $7. Most customers decided to buy the small option. However, things changed once they introduced a medium bucket into the equation. 

For the second group, they presented three options: a small bucket for $3, a medium bucket for $6.50, and a large one for $7. Since the medium size is only 50 cents cheaper than the large, customers purchased the large option more than the previous group. The decoy effect of the medium price helps customers rationalize buying a large bucket because it appears to be a bargain (even though it’s the most expensive option). 

Anchoring: Include a Reference Price

Including a reference price compared to the actual price point of your item has a significant effect. The anchor price is juxtaposed with the current price rate, and the visitor perceives it as a better deal than without one. Retail stores utilize this technique and sometimes include more than just one reference price. 

Let’s say you find a luxurious, brand-name cashmere sweater in a department store. You notice that the original price tag is $150, the sale price is $110, but the final price is $70. The anchoring effect makes the person base their decision on the original anchor price they encounter. 

Since they know it was initially $150, they would jump at the opportunity to purchase it at the heavily discounted rate, especially since this is the second time it was on sale. However, do you think they would feel as compelled if the only reference price was $70? They would feel more reluctant to purchase because $70 is still $70. Sellers can increase sales by presenting a higher reference price to give a perceived discounted value and take action while the item is on sale. 

Bundle and Multiple Pricing

Bundle pricing is an excellent way to sell multiple products and make each conversion more significant on your site. Sellers can give a lower rate for customers to purchase items together rather than individually. It is not only a great way to move inventory, but your customers will perceive more significant value and savings when they purchase bundled packages (even though they are spending more money). 

To execute an excellent bundle pricing campaign on your ecommerce site, include several bundle options on the same product page and have how much they’ll save when they purchase a package. For instance, if you sell a premium Charcoal smoker grill, you can easily present a bundle package that would entice your visitors. 

Since they are purchasing a new grill, you know they will need other tools and products to cook a meal, such as a spatula, charcoal, grill cleaner, and grill table. If a visitor chooses to purchase a big green egg, they have already committed to the activity, knowing they will eventually need the bundled items when they cook. By bundling the items together, you are selling more inventory, the customer saves money, and your profit margins increase. 

bundle-pricing-strategy

6 Strategies to Reduce Your Ecommerce Customer Return Rate

ecommerce-return-rate-strategies

Did you know that one out of every three products purchased online will be returned? And in luxury fashion ecommerce, the return rate can be even higher.

While some brands chalk up these unfortunate statistics to consumer behaviors that are outside of their control, the reality is that 67% of the time these returns are actually the retailer’s fault. Some informative ecommerce return statistics show:

  • In 23% of returns, the customer had received the wrong product
  • In 22% of returns, the product was different in appearance than advertised
  • In 20% of returns, the customer had received a damaged or defective item

High return rates can attack profit margins, affect customer retention, and impact overall company growth—and major e-commerce brands are responding in a variety of innovative ways, including ecommerce third-party fulfillment

Amazon has begun closing the customer accounts of serial-returners. Other companies, such as Stitch Fix, have adopted a try-before-you-buy model that offers a monetary incentive to consumers who keep items. Still, others are offering promotions only to certain customers based on their prior return-risk or adopting extended return policies to increase overall growth and improve customer retention.

With online sales now firmly established as a large segment of fashion commerce, and free shipping—both ways—becoming standard practice, the cost of returns has become a significant problem.

Here are some of our top tips to help reduce e-commerce returns, increase profit margins, and satisfy more online shoppers:

1. Optimize Product Visuals

High-quality photography can help bridge the gap between product reality and customer expectations. Photos should display multiple product angles, allow 360-degree views, offer a zoom feature, show lifestyle images, and, when appropriate, play product videos. Images for all product color options and other variations should also be provided. Along with professional photography, consider embedding an Instagram gallery onto your site. This element will seamlessly show your products being worn or used by a wider variety of consumers.

2. Describe Products in Detail

Customers can’t touch or feel online products, so written product descriptions matter. A well-written one will allow the customer to virtually experience the product through all five senses, as well as present all applicable product details—such as materials used, special care instructions, and other reasons why your product is unique.

3. Provide Accurate Sizing Information

Returns due to poor fit are an inherent problem in fashion e-commerce. Because customers can’t try on apparel before ordering, it is very important to calculate sizes accurately and consistently, along with providing measurements and brand-specific size charts on your site. Some companies now offer calculators that allow customers to type in their height and weight for best size suggestions; AI fitting assistants are another increasingly common option. By providing enough pre-purchase sizing information, a customer can confidently order a single size that will fit well—instead of ordering multiple different sizes and styles, then returning all but the ones they like best (In the luxury space, 51% of shoppers do this, a practice known as “bracketing.”).

4. Collect Customer Feedback

Gather information about why customers are returning your products on return forms. Read online reviews. By taking the time to understand what is prompting returns, you can then address those issues by taking appropriate action: add more product views, write improved descriptions, correct size discrepancies, etc.

5. Check Orders for Accuracy

Placing internal measures to ensure the correct items are being shipped out initially is well worth the time investment. This will ultimately prevent lost sales, negative customer experiences, extra shipping costs, liquidated products, and time spent processing returns and exchanges. This is also the right time to confirm that all items are shipped in packaging to prevent potential damage.

6. Establish Generous Return Policies

Establish generous return policies. While this may seem counter-intuitive, return rates actually decrease when there’s no urgency to return a product. This may be related to customers growing attached to these items that they keep around longer. Zappos is a good example of a brand that has successfully embraced this model by offering a 365-day return policy.

It’s no secret that hassle-free returns and exchanges encourage consumers to buy from certain brands and improve the overall customer experience. 95% of customers will shop at a store again that offers easy returns. You can keep this process customer-friendly by including a prepaid address label or envelope with shipped items and allowing returns at retail locations.

Need Help Reducing Your eCommerce Return Rate?

reduce-customer-return-rates

While there will probably always be customers who take advantage of generous return policies, the bottom line is that the majority of customers prefer not to have to deal with returns. Connect with Nogin and learn how we can help your brand implement strategies to decrease high return rates—and, instead, increase profits. 

We offer the most advanced ecommerce software platform and enterprise ecommerce solutions. Schedule a quick chat with our team to learn how our platform can explode your ecommerce growth. In the meantime, check out some more of our ecommerce content to help improve your online operations:

Luxury Fashion Brands: 15 Ecommerce Tips to Sell More Online

Luxury Fashion Brands Tips

Building a luxury fashion brand is not easy. Many brands are beginning to shift focus from physical storefronts to online mediums to sell their products. Fashion is the largest B2C ecommerce market segment. A total of $525.1 billion products were sold globally in 2019, and experts predict the market will grow by 11.4% per year. By 2025, the global market size will reach more than $100 billion.

If you want your fashion brand to survive, you need to invest in your online storefront rather than the in-store cucumber water. To compete with the big retail, your brand will need to leverage a superior ecommerce platform and graduate to enterprise ecommerce operations.

Let’s dive into the ins and outs of fashion ecommerce and learn the best strategies to explode your brand’s online sales.

What is Fashion Ecommerce?

Fashion ecommerce is the process of selling fashion products electronically on the internet. Successful luxury fashion brands sell more than just clothing. They sell an experience, an image, and a lifestyle that aims to elevate their customers’ appearance.

A successful ecommerce fashion platform must replicate its in-store experience to its online storefront. If a brand expects their customers to spend hundreds of dollars for their apparel, they must provide superior customer service, user experience and embody their story on each site page. If your online experience is subpar, you can expect subpar sales.

What Makes a Luxury Brand?

A luxury brand must employ superior manufacturing, superior designs, and superior service to provide superior products for their customers. Whether it is a worldwide brand like Louis Vuitton or a new designer trying to make a name for themselves, each brand must source the finest materials, provide flawless service, and avoid any shortcuts to earn a luxury status.

You can’t just sell a shirt for a hundred bucks and claim your brand is luxurious. Your customers must understand why your logo on a plain white shirt makes it worth five times more than a shirt from Old Navy. Ensure that when a new user lands on your website, they are immersed in an experience that reflects your brand’s value.

Take your customers on a journey with interactive media, gorgeous imagery, and separate your brand from the pack. Make your customer feel like they are part of something exclusive, something special, something that makes them a trendsetter rather than a follower. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is your brand’s value.

What is Luxury Ecommerce Customer Service Experience?

Luxury prices command luxury service. Customer service is essential to the success of a luxury brand. They service an audience who expects nothing but the best, and in a physical storefront, it is more manageable to ensure your customers are treated right. However, online users need even more support when they navigate your ecommerce storefront.

Brands must elevate their web experience to cater to a pleasant and hassle-free journey. You must make your sales funnel bulletproof so that your visitors can find and purchase the products they want without having to ask questions. You must have integrated customer support on your website ready to help but should focus on creating an intuitive platform that is easy to navigate.

Brands must create product pages with informative product descriptions, multiple images from multiple angles, and detailed measuring charts. Make the visitor feel like they are touching and trying on the clothes in person. Fashion brands should also carefully define and examine their key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand where their users leave their site or fail to convert. Your guests should feel as comfortable purchasing a product online as when they are in the store. If you don’t make a connection, you won’t make a sale.

How to Successfully Sell Luxury Fashion Products

Ecommerce Sales

Gone are the days of relying on elite, seasonal runway shows and elegant, upscale department stores to sell exclusive, high-end fashion brands. These days, tech-savvy millennial consumers of luxury products are looking for personalized, interactive, direct-to-customer shopping experiences — and they expect to find it all on tiny, mobile screens.

It’s no surprise that some luxury brands have struggled to translate lavish, in-store shopping encounters involving all five senses into two-dimensional, ecommerce platforms. Fortunately, ecommerce tools are rapidly evolving to help carry that much-desired, larger-than-life runway glamour over to the smallest of digital devices — where customers are increasingly making their purchasing decisions.

Let’s discuss the most essential ecommerce tips you need to know to take your luxury brand to the next frontier.

1. Offer a Luxury Experience

Just as high-end retail stores exude opulence by being clean, well laid-out, and uncluttered, your ecommerce site should appear similarly luxurious. The site needs to display high-quality images that allow customers to see, touch, and feel (virtually) your products and contain content that appeals to the emotions historically triggered by the brand. It also needs to display plenty of white space, be simple to navigate, load quickly, and provide easy-to-find sizing information.

Luxury product consumers expect individualized, specialized sales treatment, and this expectation does not change when they shop online. Be sure that your site offers easy access to customer service representatives on every page — via live chat, phone, and e-mail. Provide free, expedited shipping, gift-wrapping services, and other perks to loyal customers. A luxury experience involves the feeling of getting something exclusive beyond what is offered to the general public.

2. Use Personalization Tools

In an industry steeped in heritage, tradition, and exclusivity, you might be surprised to learn that artificial intelligence (AI) has a central place in modern-day fashion. AI-powered personalization tools can be a powerful method to collect online data about customers’ shopping habits and recommend relevant products to create a more satisfying shopping experience. Directing customers to tailored product suggestions with prompts of “You may also like” or “Recommended for you” can help speed up (and up-sell) the entire shopping process.

3. Integrate Augmented Reality

Stunning, high-quality images that display multiple product angles and offer a zoom feature are an excellent start to any ecommerce site, but to really up the ante, explore ways to incorporate augmented reality (AR) into the shopping experience. When possible, allow customers to try on virtual products with an online avatar or with photos of themselves.

4. Strengthen Communication

While you should make your brand presence known on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, it is also essential to find ways to cross-market between all sales channels. This multi-channel approach will keep your customers more consistently engaged and interactive with your brand.

Get creative. Embed user-generated social media videos into your website to show how much customers love your brand; live-streaming behind-the-scenes videos from your office or production facility; posting shop-able Instagram posts; using AI features on smartphones to enhance retail shopping excursions, and generally encouraging online communities to rave about your products. All of these channels give you (and your customers) the opportunity to tell the compelling stories behind your brand.

5. Benchmark Brands that Have Made the Leap

One successful example is Nogin’s client Halston — an iconic fashion powerhouse that recently launched a contemporary diffusion line, Halston Heritage. Halston’s approachable digital strategy supports its ready-to-wear brand with direct customer communication on a highly shop-able flagship ecommerce site through expanded retail locations, various social media platforms, and multi-channel marketing techniques. In other words — anyone, anywhere, can now discover the Halston brand and purchase their products.

6. Reach Out to Emerging Global Markets

The world is at your fingertips — and, reciprocally, your brand is at the fingertips of a global customer base. Think bigger and create country-specific ecommerce storefronts that cater to local languages and appeal to various international inclinations.

7. Embrace Change

There’s little doubt that ecommerce is having a profound impact on the fashion industry and luxury enterprises. For continued success in our digital, global economy, high-fashion brands everywhere embrace various ecommerce sales strategies to share brand stories and simultaneously appeal to consumers’ senses and emotions.

With the help of rapidly developing technology, today’s ecommerce strategies can effectively capture the quality, tradition, and appeal of luxury products. Learn more about how Nogin technology can fuel best-in-class ecommerce services and solutions for your brand.

8. Focus on the Emotional Experience

Luxury fashion brand shoppers seek more than just new clothes or accessories — they expect a complete physical and emotional transformation. Luxury shoppers want to look good, feel good, and, ultimately, be noticed. Because they are shopping with their hearts and wallets, the most successful brands engage their customers’ emotions to sell products successfully.

9. Fashion Shoppers Expect to be Entertained

High fashion and entertainment have always been intertwined as consumers look to fashion brands for excitement, exclusivity, pleasure, and even comfort. Fashion brands — now almost co-operating as media organizations — answer the call for entertainment with everything from extravagant runway shows and fashion blogs to frequent social media posts and next season’s video lookbooks. To remain competitive, brands need to continually engage customers through constant communication, using various marketing channels.

10. Customers Take a Leap of Faith when They Click “Buy”

If you’ve ever abandoned an online shopping cart because you’re not sure whether an item will fit right or look good, then you’ve experienced firsthand one of the inherent weaknesses of fashion ecommerce. Customers often don’t know if the clothing items they admire online will fit well or flatter them “IRL.” Fortunately, newer technologies and strategies are developing that provide additional information to any customer who might be giving pause.

Some of these include: high-quality professional images that offer multiple angles and 360-degree views, in-context product videos, improved sizing charts, more details on materials, and cutting-edge solutions like digital dressing rooms. Such strategies are increasing online conversion rates — and even reducing returns.

11. There’s a Virtual War on Returns

Return rates — as high as 50% — continue to be a problem in the fashion industry. One of the most frequent reasons cited for product returns is a poor fit. However, with improved online sizing information and other virtual fitting solutions, retailers can expect a future reduction in this area. For now, to convince customers to take the risk, offering free returns and exchanges is essential to reduce your ecommerce return rate.

12. Focus on Personalization

These days, it’s all about personalization tools: augmented reality, smart fitting technologies, or AI-driven recommendations for products based on consumer searches or purchasing histories.

The more a brand can tailor product suggestions to the individual customer, the more likely it is she will not only complete check out but also purchase additional products — both right now and in future transactions. Today’s busy consumers don’t want to spend time searching, making it easy for them to locate their personal preferences.

13. It’s an Omni-Channel World Out There

Consumers expect seamless transitions between brick-and-mortar stores, ecommerce sites, and mobile devices. They will often use more than one channel to complete a purchase. For example, if they see something they like in a store, they might look up additional colors or care instructions on their mobile phones. If they browse your brand on a smartphone, they might complete the sale on a laptop. (Make sure that cart contents transfer between platforms!) If they send an inquiry via your website, they might want the response via text message. Always explore your full brand experience through your customers’ eyes to make online and experiences as fully integrated as possible.

14. Presentation Matters

Let’s face it; fashion consumers care about appearance. Be sure your online brand appears luxurious by maintaining a well-designed site, using consistently high-quality images, ensuring a smooth check-out process, giving as much information as possible upfront about your products, providing superior customer service, and frequently communicating with your customers about how your products can improve their lives. Also, a celebrity collaboration with your brand can do wonders to support a valuable image.

15. Don’t Twist Yourself into a Knot

The importance of being flexible in this rapidly changing world of fashion ecommerce cannot be emphasized enough. As technologies develop, trends change, and digital natives continue to impact the overall digital landscape — today’s effective strategies will need to be adjusted to meet tomorrow’s demands.

5 Common Myths about B2B Ecommerce, Debunked

myths-of-ecommerce

If you’ve been hesitating to move forward with a business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce site, there are some essential things you should know:

  • B2B ecommerce is rapidly expanding.
  • Millennials are increasingly influencing professional purchasing decisions.
  • Global revenues are predicted to top a staggering $6.6 trillion by 2020.
  • B2B ecommerce is growing twice as fast as business-to-consumer (B2C).

With these facts in mind, it’s probably time to implement online ordering for your B2B customers. If your brand is resisting this essential update, consider whether this might be a result of any of these common misconceptions about B2B ecommerce:

1. We Don’t Need a B2B Online Store

If you’ve already launched a luxury ecommerce site that offers your wares directly to consumers — that’s great! But you mustn’t stop there. If you aren’t also offering wholesalers, retailers, organizations, or resellers the opportunity to purchase your products online, you are almost certainly missing out on business. Companies can also accurately track ecommerce KPIs to help gain available insights into customer buying habits.  

Many online brands are both B2C and B2B — and you don’t need separate websites to manage both. Personalized browsing experiences can be established for B2B clients using customer group logins on your current site. (This works well for VIPs, too!)

2. B2B Customers Don’t Want to Order Online

The days of relying on sales representatives for product information are gone. Instead, today’s tech-savvy millennials conduct extensive online research before making purchasing decisions — and they expect to be able to order online. This demographic of buyers — an entire generation of digital natives (ages 18-24) — now accounts for almost half of B2B online researchers.

Millennials, in general, tend to avoid interacting with salespeople actively and instead turn to online reviews, peer recommendations, or outside experts when conducting product research.

They expect all of the conveniences of their personal online shopping habits to carry over into the business segment and prefer to order independently, with 24/7 research capability and total purchasing control. You can also save money and improve your profit margins by leveraging:

3. B2B Customer Service Can’t Be Managed Online

B2B customers expect quality customer service, and this doesn’t change when they’re shopping online. Existing ecommerce tools allow for excellent customer communication via e-mail, phone, text, or online chat. Because today’s buyers have a do-it-yourself ethic, it is also valuable to develop online, self-service information centers.

In the past, personal relationships were integral to B2B customer satisfaction, but today, the key to success lies more with speed. B2B customers expect near-immediate answers to their questions and quick resolutions to their concerns. If you are unable to provide this, they will find another company that can.

4. B2B Ecommerce Sites Can’t Handle Complex Pricing

We understand that B2B pricing can be more complicated than B2C. In most cases, B2B pricing concerns like pricing fluctuations, customer-specific pricing, bulk ordering, and custom orders can be resolved online by implementing the right B2B platform, especially in luxury ecommerce.

For instance, pre-negotiated pricing can be hidden from the general public by placing it behind customer logins. If customers need a custom quote, a quote engine can allow them to request a quote at any time; for future reorders, an individualized reorder button can be provided. Information on freight and volume shipping options can also be provided on your site.

5. B2B Sites Don’t Need to be Mobile-Friendly

Like direct product consumers, B2B customers also do mobile product research, read reviews, compare features and prices, and, more than ever, make purchases directly on their smartphones. If your site is not optimized for mobile users, you will lose business.

If any of these common misconceptions have been preventing you from developing or optimizing your brand’s B2B ecommerce site, now is the time to look towards some custom solutions. Nogin can assess all of your ecommerce needs, and soon, your business customers will benefit from more immediate, effective, convenient, and reliable online buying experiences.

Need Help Improving your B2B Ecommerce Storefront? Leverage Intelligent Commerce Using Nogin

If you need help optimizing your entire B2B ecommerce storefront, leverage the most advanced ecommerce operating system with Nogin. Set up a time to chat with a team member to learn about our comprehensive suite of services to catapult your business from a medium enterprise to a big-retail juggernaut. Our innovative process has helped dozens of brands increase online sales while reducing operating and marketing costs.