Fewer returns by personalizing the customer experience

November 26, 2020 by
Sanne Leenders

Returns are often inevitable, especially within the fashion industry. It cost retailers money and the customers time. Returns are part of online shopping, but a reduction of 10% is certainly feasible. The answer is better customer guidance, says Emerce.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of online orders and returns has increased significantly. With the holidays approaching, PostNL also expects an increase of 60 to 70% in the number of parcels compared to last year, which means another boost for the number of returns. Although online shopping and returns go hand in hand, you can reduce the number of returns by up to 10%. Namely by guiding the customer on a personal level in his search for a suitable product.

Think from the customer's point of view

There is a good chance that returns are also seen as a logistics problem within the organization. This is because they are processed in this department. This is the place where a solution is first sought. While optimizing the returns process certainly contributes to a better customer experience, it doesn't alleviate the problem of many returns. The cause lies at the front of the process, at the time of purchase in the webshop. It may seem logical to make returning an order unattractive, but you will lose customers. Consumers expect returns to be part of your service. If a retailer actually wants to reduce the number of return parcels, they have to think from the consumer's point of view. So that the retailer can help them better during the purchasing process. This way, the chance of a mismatch is smaller and so is the chance of a return.

Return-sensitive products

If a retailer wants to be able to help consumers more, they need insight into the product side. This refers to the mapping of products that are sensitive to being returned. Products that represent only 10% of sales account for 90% of returns. That is why it is important to look beyond just the type of product. Unique characteristics of a product often play a role, such as a shoe size that is always one size too large. This analysis at the product level is quite simple and helps understand why certain products are often returned. With a product that is often returned, something is likely to go wrong, such as a wrong product description or insufficient advice. This requires action so that a retailer can effectively reduce the number of returns.

Giving tailored advice

Suppose a consumer is looking for new items of clothing, then the information about the consumer and comparable other consumers can use it to provide appropriate advice. This advice is very interesting for the consumer, because there is a good chance that they will be happy with the purchase of that product. The advice will have to be without obligation. It is very important to remain transparent when giving advice. Helping consumers find a product that really makes them happy is ultimately the most effective way to prevent returns as much as possible.

Understanding the customer

Returns are not only a problem for the logistics department or the e-commerce department. That is why it is important to bring these two worlds together, for example by creating synergy between front office and back office. Many retailers probably already have the necessary data. Now it is important to create one truth and gain insight from there. Start by understanding why consumers are returning something.

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