Proven Strategies to Reduce the Volume of Product Returns
How do you reduce product returns after a big sale, holiday promotion, or anytime an unusually large amount of product goes out to first-time customers or customers who don’t typically purchase from you?
I just got out of a meeting with a client who sold a ton of product in a big seasonal sale. The sale reached a lot of customers who hadn’t purchased before, and some who were on the fringe that they pushed over the line through this promo.
The problem is, now they are seeing a fairly high number of product returns.
There are a few things that they (and you) can do to combat against that in the next big sale.
Before the customer ever buys the product, it’s important to communicate all of the information needed for them to fully understand in order to properly set their expectations for the product.
You can do this effectively by answering questions about product, process, and brand.
Are you setting the expectations for the customers pre-purchase, so they understand exactly what they’re getting when the product arrives?
Give them details about the product. Material. Use. Care. Anything they need to know to really understand the product you offer.
This information can easily be included on your website. Make it easy for customers to gain all of the answers to their questions, so they have the proper expectations for your product.
Give the customer all information they need regarding shipping, returns, and warranties.
Communicate anything about your brand that customers need to understand before they make a purchase.
2. Post Purchase
After a customer has made the purchase, what can you do to reduce the volume of customers who decide to return the product?
Leverage Automated Email Sequences.
Email is a great way to reiterate expectations.
You should be triggering an automated email flow that will fire immediately post purchase. After the initial email, a series of emails should be sent over the next week to two weeks.
Indoctrinate them to the brand. When a customer makes a purchase for the first time, this is a huge opportunity to introduce them to who you are. Whether you are sharing about the founder or founding team, the product or the brand story, help the customer get to know you as a brand.
This will help the customer develop a higher emotional response to what you do. When the product arrives, they’ll love it even more if they’ve developed an emotional connection with the brand.
A high emotional connection means they are less likely to return the product.
Set Expectations for What They Should Expect When They Receive the Product.
This is your opportunity to do whatever you can to help set the customer up for success with your product. Indoctrinate them to your product, so that they are able to incorporate it into their daily life.
If your product was a pair of boots that need to be broken in, it would be important to help the customer understand how this process works, products you recommend that will help them do this, and the time period they should expect.
If you were selling a product like a kitchen utensil, this would be the time to send them instructions on use or recipes that can be made with the product.
Help the customer avoid buyer’s remorse by helping them have the right expectations and fully understand your product before it ever shows up at their door.
All of this information can be put into your email sequences. Direct them back to blog posts or link them to information on your website.
Email is your best tool to indoctrinate a customer post-purchase.
Let’s say a customer does want to return your product. The best way to handle this is to allow the customer to do so in an incredibly easy process.
They have already decided that this product is not what they want, so avoid hassling them. Instead, create a great customer service while they’re doing it. This is the best way to turn a person into a customer who may purchase again.
There are great tools like Return Link and Loop Returns that make the return process seamless and easy. When you create a seamless return process, if you interject into that process a way that incentivizes them to exchange instead of return, you can keep that person as a customer.
Data shows that approximately 60% of customers who return a product would, in fact, exchange it instead if given that opportunity.
Loop Returns was built specifically to walk a customer through a returns process, and incentivize them during the process to exchange verses return.
If you can get even a portion of these folks who are returning to exchange instead you are retaining that customer. This provides an opportunity down the road to cross sell or upsell.
Even if you only get a portion of returns to flip to an exchange, there’s a ton of revenue on the backend that you can capture.