The holiday season is a busy time for ecommerce retailers. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM), shoppers are looking for the best deals on gifts for their loved ones.
However, the holiday season can also be stressful for retailers, as they deal with an influx of customer returns. In fact, returns increase by 30% during the holidays, according to Optoro.
Top reasons for returns in ecommerce
Statista shares return reports for the clothing industry every year. While the percentage returns keep changing, the reasons have remained relatively constant.
The #1 reason for returns continues to be sizing issues — and why wouldn’t it? Unlike a brick-and-mortar store, you cannot try on clothes online before purchasing them.
Other reasons for returns include the preferences of customers and product quality. So how can you reduce your ecommerce returns this sale season?
Tips for reducing ecommerce returns during BFCM
The individual issues need to be addressed correctly to ensure that the major reasons for returns are taken care of. Here are a few tips to reduce returns for your ecommerce store.
1. Have clear and interactive sizing charts
Sizing is the top reason why most customers return clothes. It accounts for 38% of the returns and tackling just this reason can make a significant difference in reducing returns. The best way to do this is by having clear and interactive sizing charts on your website.
You can use a size recommender to help customers choose the perfect size automatically.
The one in the above screenshot shows the Kiwi Sizing’s size recommender charts in action. Here, the prompt asks customers a few questions about their body type.
Customers can then select if they prefer a tight, regular, or loose fit with their clothing.
And finally, the size recommender suggests the size and also shows the percentage of confidence that the size will fit the requirements.
This simple step-by-step sizing will help your customers get the right fit without going through multiple returns thus improving customer satisfaction and reducing your overall returns.
2. Offer virtual try-on
Products are also returned because they just don’t suit the buyer. It might have looked stunning on the model but seems off in real life.
The easiest way to tackle this is by offering a virtual try-it-online option to your customers — especially if you’re selling clothing or accessories.
This option allows customers to either upload an image or click their picture and try how the product will look on their faces or body.
If you have the budget, you can go even more advanced and implement an augmented reality (AR) try-on option.
This way, customers can directly see what the product looks like on them before they even make the purchase. Many brands like Farfetch and Prada also partnered with Snapchat to introduce the full-body AR try-on feature for their customers.
3. Use high-quality materials
Sometimes, the image just cannot depict the material and quality. Quality issues are the third most common reason for returns in ecommerce. While you cannot always represent quality through images, you can convey quality through the story behind your brand.
Allbirds does this especially well with its sustainability practices. As you scroll through the page and read the story, you understand that the brand uses high-quality, sustainably sourced materials.
Customers who value sustainable materials perceive the quality of Allbirds’ products to be higher than others because of the way the story is conveyed.
Once the perceived quality goes up along with the right kind of messaging, customers are more likely to pay higher prices, stay loyal to the brand, return fewer items, and become repeat customers over the long term.
4. Create sturdy, customized packaging
Another common reason for returns is damaged goods. In fact, 13% of all online orders are returned because the product arrived damaged. This usually happens because the packaging was not strong enough to protect the product during shipping.
It’s also noted that tailoring the packaging to the logistics system enables shipping efficiency and can reduce costs by up to 40%.
Allbirds not only works on its product messaging and quality but also delivers an experience through its packaging. Different Allbirds’ products have custom packaging that makes buyers curious, intrigued, and excited about the packaging.
“Fans have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the Lay’s Smile bags, showing their support on social media by sharing images with their bags using #SmileWithLays.” — Sarah Guzman, senior director of marketing, Lay’s.
Packaging not only keeps your products intact during shipping and delivery, but it also creates an experience that customers want to share with others — thus giving you added brand value.
5. Provide prompt customer service
If a customer needs to return a product, it’s important to provide prompt and efficient customer service. This includes having a return policy that is easy to understand and follow, as well as providing clear instructions on how to return an item.
It also means being responsive to customer queries and concerns — especially before and after a purchase is made.
Papilio Bridal sells bridal dresses and accessories. Since buying a wedding dress is a big deal, they offer a virtual consultation call where customers can ask all the questions they have about the dress.
This helps customers be sure about the purchase they’re making and thus reduces the returns that you have to handle.
While you do not need to have virtual consultations, you should consider having dedicated staff for handling returns. This way, customers will not be left waiting for their refund or store credit, and they are more likely to shop with you again in the future.
What steps will you take to reduce returns this BFCM?
Returns are an inevitable part of running an ecommerce business — but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them as part of your BFCM strategy. The steps we mentioned here should help you reduce returns as we tackle them by their frequency. In fact, if you only reduce the sizing-related returns, you’ll take care of over 30% of your store returns.
With Kiwi Sizing, you can offer interactive sizing charts, detailed instructions, and even automatic size recommendations to customers. It has a range of sizing solutions that can be customized to fit your specific needs.
With our easy-to-use tools, you can create accurate and reliable sizing charts that will help reduce the number of returns for your store. By taking the right steps toward reducing returns, you can make this BFCM season less stressful and more profitable for your business!