Revenge of the Online Shoppers: Combatting High Post-Holiday Returns

Jan 11, 2016 — Tashia Walters
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As technology changes, so do the ways we interact with the world around us.

This is as true in social media interaction as it is in retail. Just as we begin making headway in understanding body language, we are increasingly stripped of that luxury in matters of business.

Your customers are increasingly likely to be sipping a soda, feet on the coffee table and watching Netflix while buying products than actually entering your stores.

Online sales are on the rise, and with it, refunds hold a larger-than-expected piece of the omnichannel puzzle.

The National Retail Federation has touted a gross 30% of online sales are returned in the post-holiday refund waterfall compared to a refund rate of only 8% for in-store sales.

There are a number of theories on why refund rates are so much higher online. One of the most obvious, and often overlooked, is lack of customer education. Remorse can be high when the items arrive and are far from expectation. Some view this as an unfortunate reality of the online shopping experience.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are a few ways you can nip online sale refunds in the bud:

Use an intelligent eCommerce/POS solution to stay one step ahead.

Without customers being present in your store, you may feel helpless in understanding who they really are. The good news is, over time, intelligent eCommerce solutions gather enough data to understand habits, likes/dislikes and this will enable you to provide “others who bought this also liked” features to instill that sense of peer-to-peer camaraderie and to stay one step ahead of wants and needs.

The more your customers interact with your systems, the better data you’ll have to understand them. This understanding will enable you to provide a personalized experience, even if they are lounging on the couch.

Accept and display customer reviews.

Opinions matter. Glam and glitz applied to a marketing piece can only go so far. What customers have to say about their real life experiences with a product can nudge those teetering on the fence.

The key? Use feedback to your advantage and to share it, good and bad (read: credibility), with potential customers.

As a bonus, your company’s analysts have potential to use these reviews to make future purchasing/marketing/sales decisions.

Offer drop-ship capabilities.

Where online shopping falls short is in the personal experience you typically get in a store setting.

For example, a casual, in-person conversation about the weather can spark hints of knowledge about an individual.

A simple statement such as “I don’t really mind all this rain we’ve been having. I love the outdoors,” tells you what kind of accessories may suit the individual. A sales representative can suggest items such as waterproof cases, dust protection for delicate equipment and mobile home monitoring accessories to create a sense of security when the house is left alone during adventures. The list goes on.

Offering a drop-ship capability may sway customers to come to your store to ensure they get that personal experience and vast selection.

With the omnichannel experience, customers can shop nearly everywhere and they expect interactions with your company to remain consistent across every channel. The use of technology has limited us in certain ways, but on the same hand, has given rise to new and intelligent ways to understand and create loyalty with your customers.

 

Topics: Retail Operations, Customer Experience

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