How To Turn Product Returns Into Repeat Customers?
Are product returns a pain or a chance?
At first glance, returns feel like pain for every eBusiness, as well as for eCustomers.
But when you go beyond appearances, you quickly see your chance there to position your fashion eBusiness ahead of the competition.
Eager to know how?
Having the right product return policy in place boosts repeat customers. And profits. Proven!
This is our golden rule No. 6 of selling successfully online.
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Not only your product return policy is an essential part of your customer service. But it is even bigger than you may think.
It is a foundation brick of your marketing strategy and your brand DNA.
Read on to master every bit of it.
How to get fewer returns
There is no “touch and feel” experience online.
With online fashion retail, consumers have no other choice but use their homes as fitting rooms.
And eBusiness have no choice but accept it and get prepared well.
Yesterday, my husband received 2 pairs of sneakers from the same brand. Why did he buy shoes online? Because the store selection was way too reduced for him while all designs and sizes were available online.
But buying shoes online is always a bet to get the right size and fit. And even more, for guys like him, used to wearing handcrafted shoes.
When he told me he was feeling the first pair too big, I started to envision the hassle of returning it. I didn’t feel happy about it. And when he told me that finally, the size was right for both pairs, I felt relieved.
We all feel that way, right?
Needless to say that the more info you provide to shoppers, the more you minimize the chances they return the products.
Giving helpful info to your customers also prevents them from buying a few different products to find the right fit.
As an example, Asket provides to men 15 sizes for a tee shirt and an easy process to measure the right size. They make it harder to get it wrong, and easier to like their brand for being so helpful!
But returning a fashion product is sometimes necessary. And it is part of the whole customer experience.
The customer is already disappointed that the product doesn’t fit. How to reverse that negative feeling into a positive experience?
First, it’s crucial to make them feel at ease.
Because they are not at fault.
And they shouldn’t have to justify themselves about anything either.
So, “No questions asked returns” is the right way to to go. But within a reasonable time frame. And with requirements like “not worn”, “not washed”, “not damaged” and “all tags on.”
I hear you thinking.
“But I will miss precious information about the reasons my fashion product didn’t fit!”
At first, yes.
But it’s much safer and efficient to ask later.
In a specific message, you let your customers know that not only you received their returned product but also refunded them already. Never challenge the reasons why consumers want to return your products, but simply ask them what didn’t fit.
Your customers will feel grateful for your perfect return service and happy to help you in return. It’s the reciprocity principle.
If somebody is good to me, I’ll reciprocate. What’s the harm? If somebody says ‘Hello’ to me, I won’t turn my back on him.“
With the data received, you can then fix problems, improve fits and reduces the number of returns in a virtuous cycle.
How to get repeat customers with returns
88% percent of consumers take the time to review a retailer’s return policy before making an online purchase.”
Better be good or prepare to fail!
Your product return policy is all about providing service to your customers.
Make it easy and inviting for shoppers to take a chance on your products they might otherwise hesitate to buy.
Just like for any part of the whole customer experience, transparency, flexibility, and convenience should be the rules for your value proposition.
Consumers don’t like extra costs.
One of the best ways to overcome buyer’s remorse is to offer free shipping on returns. It’s a huge relief to know you can easily send back that sweater you ordered which turned out to be too big.
Free returns started off as being a competitive advantage but now they’re the norm.”
“Free shipping” and “free returns” go hand in hand. There’s just one problem…
Returns eat the margins.
The cost of returned products needs to be taken into account like any marketing cost.
It’s much cheaper and valuable for the consumer that your fashion brand includes the return risk and related cost to the final price of your product instead of the usual mark up for designers fashions.
I am talking about a mark up not adding any value to the product for the customer.
An expensive ad campaign with a famous model, a highly paid photographer and a whole photo shooting team staying on a Caribbean island for one week.
You see my point?
Brands need to make sure that the costs of shipping and returns are factored into their pricing structure from the get-go.”
Consumers don’t like hassle either.
Make their life easy:
- Packaging ready to be sent back (no box, preparation or tape needed)
- Label ready inside the box
- Easy online process
- Pick up service at home or work address
- Quick refund with services like Paypal for example
Tremendous progress has been made on reusable packaging, and there are solutions for you out there.
It’s always good to use boxes made of a recycled card box.
But it’s even better to use boxes already conceived for multiple reuses.
Like Vestiaire Collective sending your products in a box with 2 card box layers on top. The second layer has a prepared seal prepared on. Just remove the paper and place the second layer on the first to seal it back. Then stick the prepared label on, and your parcel is ready to be mailed a second time!
Another option, but a bit more pricey, is Repack.
What is right for your eCustomers is also right for you. When online shoppers have a positive experience with your returns, there are high chances they’ll buy from your brand again.
Your return policy is a marketing tool and a winning strategy to get new and repeat customers.
Repeat customers are valuable to your eBusiness.
Repeat customers can make up to 40% of total revenue and represent between 3 and 7 times more revenue than one-time buyers.”
A negative return experience and the customer is forever lost.
A positive return experience and customers will not only buy again from you but also refer your company to friends.
The result is up to you.
The Internet brought a new retail landscape. Your product return policy can be a unique differentiator for newcomers like you.
Because traditional fashion retail struggles and is very slow to adjust.
Consumers follow brands that offer the most frictionless experience. A transparent and efficient return process for your eCustomers will put your eBusiness ahead of the competition.
Today’s consumer wants and expects a seamless, transparent and hassle-free online shopping experience from searching to paying, receiving and returning fashion products.
In the highly competitive world of fashion, it’s becoming the norm. By mastering all aspects of your customer experience, your fashion eBusiness can go a long way.
Ready to go from an online retailer to top seller?
As the 6th golden rule of selling in a fashion marketplace, your returns policy is critical to your fashion eBusiness.
We post a new rule every month in 2019.
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Interested in giving helpful info to your customers so that you sell more and get fewer returns? Read How to write descriptions that sell in a wink.
Any doubt about having an efficient returns policy? Ask us.
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(Photos from Unsplash: Curology, Asket, RePack. Illustrations from Fashion Talents).
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Fanny is the CEO + Co-founder of Fashion Talents, and a passionate and tireless promoter of new fashion eBusiness. She’s on a mission to open fashion business to all talents around the world and drive shoppers, sales, and success to them.