6 Strategies to Reduce Your Ecommerce Customer Return Rate

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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?

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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:

Case study: Nogin and Reyn Spooner partner for fashion ecommerce success

Reyn Spooner

When you need help building an online presence for your brand, you want an ecommerce specialist that has both the technological solutions and the retail savvy to be a true partner in your success.

Nogin fulfills both criteria, offering innovative services tailored to each client’s specific needs. The result is a thriving ecommerce presence, as embodied by Nogin’s work with Reyn Spooner, the apparel company renowned for clothing with an “aloha spirit.”

Jeff Deisner, chief customer officer for Nogin, talks about this fruitful ecommerce collaboration that has seen great results since it was established a year and a half ago.

Q. What were Reyn Spooner’s needs when the company began working with Nogin?

A. Boosting revenue was the primary driver, but I would also say that the brand’s customer base tends to be an older demographic, typically male and also very beach minded. So how do you operate a longer-term business trying to sell to that demographic when there are a lot of other demographics as well?

They wanted to diversify into other product categories and product lines. So it was about how to do that successfully in an online store that typically caters to a specific demographic. That was the biggest challenge at that time—how to open up to other demographics in an effective way so that they still preserved the brand identity while giving themselves the opportunity to grow and diversify their customer base.

Q. What was the process to help meet Reyn Spooner’s goals?

A. We engaged them as we always do with clients, which is to understand what their pain points were and what their goals were, and devise strategies on the storefront level and also at the general market level to help them achieve those goals.

Also, and this was another challenge, we faced a lot of change within the brand over the last couple of years, both with the brand itself and the underpinning technology that supported the ecommerce business.

As we entered the engagement, we had actually experienced some turnover ourselves in our client teams, so we were faced with this challenge of developing trust with the client to make sure they knew we could perform and help them achieve their goals.

I engaged them and focused on how we could strengthen this relationship at the leadership level. I wanted to understand where their pain points were, both internally with themselves and their challenges with our team, so we could build an engagement model focused on building trust and confidence that we could deliver what we needed to.

We spent a couple of months trying to right size but doing that during the holiday season can be a challenge—it’s such an important part of a brand’s business that you can’t introduce a lot of change during the November and December time frame. We focused on getting through the end of the year and resetting the relationship—really resetting and understanding where their goals were for the future and engaging with the right people to allow us to demonstrate success and build on that success over time.

Following implementation of our ecommerce strategy and tactics, we saw even stronger performance in the store, and we could definitively say that we were aligned with the client’s strategies and could share in some great successes we’ve seen in the store month-over-month and year-over-year. Those give us a great opportunity to build upon them from here.

Q. What were some specific results?

A. The way we typically look at success is in year-over-year trends. In this case, we’ve had some really nice trends. As we look at year-to-date numbers from 2018, we were able to increase traffic to the store year-over-year by and order volume in general by significant percentages.

One off the biggest wins is that during this time we were really focused on growing the store and we’ve grown average order value as well. That’s a key part of what we were faced with because historically the brand was reliant on very deep promotions, which can be unsustainable for the business in the longer term. It doesn’t get long-term customers and it doesn’t get sustainable revenue; it just gets people in the door, they buy something and they don’t come back until they get a deep deal again. We wanted to put promotion strategies together that don’t hurt the price point and in fact can drive it higher focusing on the right products and types of customers.

In doing so, we were able to raise AOV significantly. Specifically within the traffic, one big win is that as we attribute revenue to the paid media channels, the paid social channel year-over-year is up by triple digits. The reason why that’s significant is that channel, if it’s done right, really does drive success on the other channels, because it’s very much a brand-focused advertising strategy and you get more of a connection to the brand than with a keyword search or otherwise.

Q. How does this relationship exemplify a partnership with Nogin?

A. We share in the success our clients achieve. The wins that I’ve shared really do reflect an alignment with the brand and we’re very excited about that. Many times brands don’t initially see that mutual goal we have of success in the store and might still view us as primarily a service provider. But if we truly do align on strategy for the store and a promotions strategy that’s very sustainable for the brand, we can develop a positive relationship with that brand.

Whether you’re starting from square one or optimizing an existing strategy, partner with Nogin for high-performing ecommerce solutions powered by technology tailored to the fashion industry and optimized for today’s challenging online environment.

Nogin New Client Announcement: Dogeared

DOGEARED

Nogin And Dogeared Inc. Unveil New Online Store, Features Stunning New Aesthetic and a Data-Driven, Omnichannel Ecommerce Framework

Media Contact:
Jack Scullin
jscullin@nogin.com
(949) 864-8136

LOS ANGELES – Feb. 1, 2019 – Nogin, a leading provider of customized, end-to-end digital commerce solutions, and Dogeared Inc., a trendsetting provider of handcrafted American-made accessories, today debuted the jeweler’s new online store. The revamped website focuses on inspirational imagery and is designed to enhance the shopping experience for guests. Its mobile-optimized design, intuitive user interface, and underlying data-driven platform make it easy for customers to explore personalized recommendations, discover new products, and access exclusive deals based on their interests.

“Dogeared Inc. has always been market-leading as one of the first jewelry brands to include and popularize ‘mantra’ cards and inspirational aspects to its pieces,” said Jan Nugent, CEO of Nogin. “Like its jewelry, this new online store is inspirational and visually breathtaking.”

In addition to providing the overall design and technology infrastructure for the retailer’s digital store, Nogin provides full-service support for the brand including creative and marketing as well as development, logistics, and fulfillment services.

For years, Nogin has pioneered fashion ecommerce, and we are excited to leverage that deep experience to revamp Dogeared’s cross-channel operations. With its nimble experienced team, Nogin has completed the custom integration and launch of its new shopping destination quickly and seamlessly.

Nogin’s ecommerce platform provides a single interface for managing and deploying products across multiple sales channels. This unified system increases operational efficiencies, ensuring that the end consumer receives the underlying product faster while increasing the margins of the brand.

For more information about Nogin, visit https://nogin.com, and indulge yourself in the stunning new aesthetic of Dogeared Inc. at www.dogeared.com.