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Posts Tagged ‘Returns Management’

3 Tips for Converting Online Merchandise Returns into Customer Returns

September 16th, 2013 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

Merchandise returns – I know the term is enough to make any retailer groan. We’ve already covered in a previous blog article the ways that you can try to prevent merchandise returns from happening, but they are still an unavoidable part of the retailer’s life.

Given that Americans return 9% of all retail purchases each year – which translates to approximately $264 billion worth of goods, according to InvestorPlace – returns are not going anywhere anytime soon.

With such significant numbers of customers heading to the return aisle, it’s important for retailers, especially online retailers, to keep in mind that returns management is another exciting opportunity to wow your customer. And when customers are happy, they keep coming back.

Read our three tips below for optimizing the merchandise returns process, and for giving your customers a reason to visit again.

1. Self-Service Return Capability

Online shoppers are an independent bunch. Equipped with technology that enables them to research or purchase whatever they wish, whenever they wish, customers want the same freedom when it comes to returns – they want to be able to return items whenever they like.

By enabling self-service returns, online retailers give customers crucial power and control over their purchasing decisions. With Ignify eCommerce, customers can easily create new return requests from their My Accounts. While creating new return requests, customers can select a return reason code that can determine the lifecycle and treatment of the return order.

Self-Service Return Capability

By including a selection of return reasons in customers’ return request forms, you gain crucial data regarding their return behavior, which helps you to better market and merchandize accordingly. 

For example, you can set up your return policies in the system so that the reason return code entered by the customer determines the refund amount that the customer will receive. For instance, a “Damaged Merchandise” return reason code could mean that a customer would receive a full refund; or a “Changed Mind” return reason code could provide a partial refund. You also have the ability to configure your e-commerce store so that customers are able to return an entire order, an order line, or just a partial quantity on the order line.

With this flexibility, if a customer orders multiple items but only wants to return one, then he does not need to return the entire order – which means merchants do not have to process multiple returned items, and thus lose out on those revenues, for the sake of one.

2. Visibility on Return Status

Not only has technology made customers want the instant ability to complete whichever action they want (purchasing, returning, etc.), but it has also made them want, and expect, the newest updates.  Just look at social media –– everyone is always connected to their social networking sites, constantly on the lookout for new happenings in their friends’ lives, or posting their own new life events.

By allowing customers to view the status of return orders – such as Being Processed, Item Received, and Return Completed – merchants communicate to customers that their returns have been recognized and are being handled. Essentially, the anxiety and guesswork of a customer returning an item is eliminated.   Customer service representatives also have the ability to see return statuses, providing full visibility should a customer contact them to verify the placement of a return order.

Visibility on Return Status

Providing customers with up-to-date statuses on their returned merchandise gives greater visibility into the process – which helps put their mind at ease that their return is being handled.

3. Customizing Special Offers Based on a Customer’s Return Information

So you’ve given a customer an easy, smooth, and painless item return process – that’s where the return engagement ends, right? Wrong!

Without a doubt, giving customers an outstandingly simple item return process is absolutely crucial. If they don’t have a good experience making a return, then it can make them look at the entire purchasing process in a negative light – which means there’s a definite chance they won’t want to purchase from you again. 

But in addition to providing excellent return service, if you want to really differentiate your business from your competitors in regards to return service, send targeted promotions based on your customer’s returned merchandise, or on their reasons for returning.

For example, if a shopper says that she decided to return a shirt because she simply changed her mind, follow up with an email campaign sharing the cool new sales on all the tops in your store, or on new shirt arrivals, etc.

Or if the reason that a customer returned an item was because it was broken or not working properly, you can send him a small discount coupon to redeem on his next purchase.

By personalizing offers according to customers’ desires and behavior (even for customers in the return line), you convey to your customers that a) you value their business; b) you recognize them as individuals, not just a nameless and faceless mass; and c) you appreciate them spending their time and money on your store. When people feel sincerely valued, then they will feel comfortable visiting and purchasing from you again – even if they had a previous experience where a product didn’t work out.

Merchandise Returns: Another Customer Service Touch Point

It’s important to remember that merchandise returns are another touch point with customers, making it another way for you to build and strengthen those customer relationships. Optimizing every interaction with customers is a way to keep expanding your customer base – which translates to maximizing potential revenues. And what better way to make your store stand out than by creating an exceptional customer experience in the place that customers expect it the least? 

For more information on how you can optimize your e-commerce sales channel, please email us at ecommerce@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRMeCommerce and ERP, software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 7 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

Reducing Online Store Returns: 5 Ways to Improve Merchandise Return Rates

August 30th, 2013 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

Merchandise returns are not ideal for any retailer, but online retailers are especially vulnerable. Given that online shoppers can’t pick up and examine merchandise firsthand before making a purchase, there’s a higher risk that customers will receive their purchases and find that they’re not exactly what they wanted.

But there are ways that merchants can reduce such risks. By equipping online shoppers with valuable product knowledge, e-retailers are able to not only make the sale, but also ensure that customers are happy with their purchase. And by lessening the number of returns that need to be processed, online merchants are able to devote their time and resources to other revenue-drivers instead of to returns management.

See our five tips on how to position products on your online store that will make your shoppers well-informed, eager to buy, and ultimately satisfied with their purchases.

1. High Quality Product Images

Since online shoppers can’t physically see and inspect merchandise, images are the closest way for them to see products up-close.

Providing high-resolution photos of the merchandise allows shoppers to view the product better, which means they also have a better understanding of what they will receive if they purchase it. The ability to zoom-in to the image, and the ability to rotate the image 360 degrees so that the shoppers can see front and back, are also important in familiarizing the customer with the product.

Showing product pages that contain high quality photos as well as zoom-in and 360-degree image rotation capabilities offer online shoppers an up-close view of merchandise.

Showing product pages that contain high quality photos as well as zoom-in and 360-degree image rotation capabilities offer online shoppers an up-close view of merchandise.

2. Strong Product Descriptions

As an activity, shopping involves two very important components: the visual component, and the tactile component. Regardless of whether the shopping is taking place in a brick-and-mortar shop or an online store, how well a retail location engages these elements determines how likely a shopper is going to buy merchandise, as well as how likely a shopper will come back.

For an online retail channel, the visual component is fulfilled with great photos of products (see point #1). For the tactile component, product descriptions communicate the details of those photos, which help shoppers understand the feel of a product instead of just how it looks.

When a customer turns to product descriptions for their product research, the want clear, straightforward information – and don’t be afraid to skimp on the details either. Also, it’s crucial that your descriptions are completely honest. Don’t say that the heel on a particular shoe is 3 inches high when it’s really 2 inches high. If product descriptions are false, then you set your customers up with the wrong expectations – which inevitably lead to returned products.

Product descriptions are a valuable source of information for online shoppers. By providing clear, straightforward, and truthful details about your products, you allow shoppers to get a better understanding of the look-and-feel of a particular item.

Product descriptions are a valuable source of information for online shoppers. By providing clear, straightforward, and truthful details about your products, you allow shoppers to get a better understanding of the look-and-feel of a particular item.

3. Product Comparisons

With the various different types of merchandise that a store may offer, it can sometimes be difficult to decide which item is best. For shoppers, being able to compare two products together is a helpful way to identify which item is more suitable, which in turn means they will be more satisfied with the purchase in the long-run.

While customers shopping at brick-and-mortar stores can physically compare two products side by side, e-retailers can also give that experience with product comparison functionality. With online product comparisons, merchants allow shoppers to choose whichever two (or more) items they would like to compare and then lists the selected items’ dimensions, physical characteristics, prices, etc.

Seeing this information all in one place as opposed to visiting each individual product page and manually compiling it, product comparison saves shoppers time and energy, as well as gives them the material they need to make the right purchase.

Product comparison functionality allows online shoppers to evaluate different items all at one time, giving shoppers instant access to the information they need to make a well-informed purchase.

Product comparison functionality allows online shoppers to evaluate different items all at one time, giving shoppers instant access to the information they need to make a well-informed purchase.

4. Product Reviews

Product reviews are important to post on your e-commerce site because they a) signal to shoppers that real people are buying and using your products, and b) they provide helpful user information on the products.

For example, if a customer writes that a particular shirt runs small in a review, a shopper will know to buy the shirt in the next size up from their normal size. Or perhaps a customer writes a review containing tips on how the product best worked for them – a shopper who reads it will in turn understand how to most effectively use the product, and thus get greater value from it.

Product reviews provide worthwhile information that helps guide customers’ purchases, as well as helps adjust customers’ expectations or understanding. When customers know what they’re getting in purchasing an item, and when they know how to get the most value out of that purchase thanks to other customer recommendations, they don’t have a reason to return it.

Product reviews supplied by customers are a great way to offer valuable user information to shoppers. Providing these firsthand insights allow shoppers to better understand both the product and how to get the most value out of that product.

Product reviews supplied by customers are a great way to offer valuable user information to shoppers. Providing these firsthand insights allow shoppers to better understand both the product and how to get the most value out of that product.

5. 24-Hour, Toll-Free Customer Service

Giving your customers access to a customer service agent can make the difference between returned merchandise and retained merchandise. Providing a 24-hour, toll-free phone number, or a customer service email address that is also monitored 24 hours a day, provides crucial touch-points for engaging the customer and troubleshooting issues.

Designating well-trained staff to handle customer queries is vital for this process. We’ve all heard (or have) horror stories about unfriendly or unhelpful customer service representatives. But if your company develops a reputation for pleasant, easy, and useful customer service, more customers will turn to you for help instead of automatically returning items that they’re having issues with.

If you have any questions, or if you would like more information on how to improve your online merchandising processes, please email us at ecommerce@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRMeCommerce and ERP, software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 7 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.