It’s the season for increased selling opportunities, strong sales, and an abundance of customers. Unfortunately, it’s also the season of post-holiday returns. According to specialists, one in three people returned at least one gift last year.
Also, more and more online shops adopt the ‘try before you buy’ strategy. For some brands, it bridges the gap between online and offline; but it also encourages customers to over-order, with the intention of returning their unwanted items free of charge.
While the concept may appeal to some, it represents a huge step backward in the fashion industry’s efforts to become less wasteful, and more sustainable.
According to statistics…
Online returns cost retailers an estimated £20 billion each year. Return processes are often costly in resource terms and negatively impact on a retailer’s bottom line, on top of having a significant environmental impact.
While online shopping makes it easier than ever for customers to quickly make purchases, it also increases the probability that an item won’t fit or will feel or look different in person than it did on a computer screen, prompting additional returns.
Returns are a big stressor in the customer journey, and 80% of shoppers wouldn’t shop again if they returned their first order.
Last year, consumers returned 8 percent of all purchases, with online clothing returns rising as high as 40 percent. These high numbers can really impact your revenue—but they don’t have to. Here are a few ways to make holiday returns more manageable.
More is the key!
Try to provide shoppers with accurate size and fit recommendations along with style and preference recommendations.
For example, when a shopper visits your website, the more accurately they are able to visualize how desired items will fit based on data within the system that matches their personal body size and shape, the less likely they are to return products.
It is increasingly important for consumers to get as close to a custom fit experience as possible when they are shopping for clothing and apparel online. Shoppers do not have the same sensory experience online as they would shopping in-store.
Merchants with the ability to make accurate sizing and fit recommendations and deliver merchandise that meets the unique style and preference of each customer provide a leg-up on competing retailers.
Holiday peak season is a great opportunity for you to increase customer loyalty, as well as profits. If accurate fit advice is provided, shoppers can be confident the clothes will look good when they arrive. Over time, this means happier shoppers, fewer returns, and a far more sustainable process.
Keep the Customer First
Remember that the holiday season is a great time to turn first-time shoppers into loyal customers. Customer loyalty is critical to all businesses. Return customers account for 22.6 percent of the average retailer’s revenue, yet they only make up 11.6 percent of their customer base.
It may be frustrating to offer partial discounts or full refunds when an exchange doesn’t work out, but keep in mind that the customer’s happiness with the ease of your returns process may determine whether or not they shop with you again.
Promote Exchanges Over Returns
When your team is answering questions or accepting returns from customers, you should also make sure they’re prepared to promote exchanges over cash returns. Even if you do accept cash returns, exchanges or store credit can help your business keep more of its holiday profits. So you could consider offering a better deal for those who are just making exchanges or getting store credit.