Various studies highlight the very costly and often totally unnecessary impact product returns have on businesses. We consider 10 ways you can reduce the number of products making their way back to your warehouses.
One recent study found that 1 in 3 products purchased online will be returned while another study suggests that up to 95% of returned goods had nothing wrong with them. Producers and distributors delivering goods to existing customers often face similar challenges.
You can empower your customers to buy better. Provide your customers with clear, updated information about your products and they’ll buy from you with greater confidence.
Develop an order-taking system and utilise sales tools to increase transparency and accountability between your company and customers. This enhances your commitment towards each other and builds long-term trust in the process.
10 ways to reduce product returns
1. Correct product specs
One of the most common reasons for change-of-mind returns is incorrect product information. Provide customers with clear product and packaging specs, confirming quantities and quality guarantees.
2. Updated product lists
Access to updated product lists and current stock levels improves customer decision-making during store visits. Customers won’t be disappointed by learning that certain products they ordered can’t be delivered or have been substituted by alternative products.
3. Product pics
Give buyers an even better idea of what to expect. Provide them with an accurate visual representation into the finer product details, especially where "zoom-able" photography via mobile devices is an option.
4. Real-time customer service
Including a live chat function on your website gives customers the opportunity to ask questions or seek further information about your products. This increases customers’ confidence in their purchases, reducing the number of product returns you’re likely to receive.
5. Educated sales personnel
Without the proper training and product education, sales reps don't know how to best meet customer needs. Continual sales coaching results in reps selling the right products at the right time to the right customers.
6. Packaging that prevents breakage
Appropriate packaging for your products goes a long way in preventing damage in transit and the product returns that follow.
7. Promote accurate delivery times
Always be realistic with the delivery times you promote. Anticipate possible delivery time delays due to manufacturing issues, seasonal availability or other external factors. This helps customers determine whether a product will arrive in time and eliminates the need to return late arriving products.
8. Order-taking tools
Document orders during site visits and hold customers accountable to order submissions. This enhances your commitment towards each other and builds long-term trust in the process.
9. Shipping quality control
If you’re a larger business it’s impossible to rely on human beings to catch every error before a shipment goes out. You need a solution that automates order description, quality and quantity inspections.
10. Offer after sales assistance, invite feedback
Invite customer feedback and encourage customer reviews. Mistakes will inevitably creep in. Learn from them. Understand what causes returns and adapt your systems and processes accordingly.