Returns. The ultimate “lose lose” of ecommerce. Your margins take a hammering. Customers are disappointed. The planet takes another emissions hit. It’s hard to think of another area of ecommerce where everyone stands to gain so significantly from improvements – so, what are we waiting for? What are the best ways to reduce returns to your Shopify store?
In this article, we’ll break down our recommendations into things you can do before, during and after the sale to help mitigate the inconvenience and expense of a returned order. From nailing your order picking accuracy, to the right way to follow up post-purchase – Shopify store owners can do plenty to guard against and reduce returns.
Let’s get started.
Reducing Returns – “Before” Actions
Slashing that return rate starts long before a customer converts. It’s all about helping them to make the right choices the first time around. We all want to get the right product in front of the right customer, but how can we ensure they’re buying exactly what they need?
Great Product Copy
Product descriptions are about so much more than SEO. Of course, you need to write with one eye on the copy’s technical performance. But if you only write for the crawlers, forgetting your human target audience, you’ll miss out on authentically communicating the true value of your product. Be clear. Be concise. Be specific. Who is this product perfect for? Write in a way that will help them feel seen and understood. Give the right customer the confidence that your product is exactly what they’ve been looking for. Appealing to a wider audience might feel safe – but if you’re looking to reduce returns, it’s time to get niche.
If you’re selling larger items or anything that’s dependent on a factor such as skin tone or hair color (make up, apparel etc) then augmented reality is worth the investment. From making sure your collapsible stroller will really fit in the trunk of their car, to seeing how that new eyeshadow palette will swatch on their wrist, augmented reality isn’t the right fit for every product, but if you’re selling within a relevant vertical, it can be all-important for your return rate. There’s a cost involved, but when you’re guarding against large items being returned (like an armchair which didn’t fit as well as expected in that cozy corner) then it will quickly pay its way – not to mention the side benefits of an enhanced customer experience.
Reducing Returns – “During” Actions
Once an order is placed, the clock is ticking. Ecommerce stores have a balancing act each time they process an order – speed versus accuracy. Fulfillment needs to be slick, but it also needs to be dependable. Here are two recommendations to ensure you’re winning on both counts.
Order Picking Accuracy
When dealing with a steady stream of orders, your picking team needs to be able work quickly and efficiently. Give them the tools they need to succeed by working with a dedicated solution such as OrderlyPrint. It’s one command center for bulk order management that allows you to tag, filter and organize orders before print custom picking lists and packing slips. These help to eliminate packing errors by boosting order picking accuracy, at the same time as speeding up fulfillment times. No more “you sent the wrong thing” returns. No more “it didn’t arrive soon enough” returns.
Packaging does so much more than help get your products from A to B – it’s an unsung hero of ecommerce. Goods being damaged in transit is a huge contributor when it comes to returns, so investing in quality solutions is a sound investment. Don’t assume that the type of packaging used is the silver bullet to all your woes here – it also pays to look at your fulfillment process and training. Are your team being given enough time to package goods up properly, or are they being forced to rush to meet targets, at the cost of being careful?
Reducing Returns – “After” Actions
Does it feel as though once the order is shipped, returns are out of your control? There’s still plenty you can do to reduce the risk of a package being sent back to you. With a little forward planning, shipped orders can even help you reduce future returns made by other customers! Read on to learn how…
Educational Follow-up Content
Once an order is shipped, it’s time to start getting your customer ready to enjoy it to its fullest potential! Following up an order with informational content or product guides is a great way to build on the excitement of delivery, and to ensure that customers are getting the most out of their purchase when it does arrive. Provide links to relevant content in the communications you send to customers when an order ships. Learn more about customizing your Shopify notifications with OrderlyEmails.
Ask for a Detailed Review
Finally, use a reviewing platform that allows customers to leave a personalized review – i.e. a review which factors in their own unique attributes, so that future customers can get a better idea of how the product might suit them. For example, apparel reviews can include attributes such as the height of the person leaving the review, so curious shoppers can see if the dress is likely to be the right length for their 5ft 6” frame. Better matches, happier customers, fewer returns.
Ready to Reduce Returns to Your Shopify Store?
As you can see, from order picking accuracy to augmented reality, there are plenty of actions you can take to start chipping away at your return rate. Don’t forget to optimize the customer experience around your returns process itself – clear policies and well-branded returns paperwork included in each order (courtesy of Order Printer Pro) will all help to streamline the process and reduce the impact of any returns which do slip through the net.
We wish you (not too) many happy returns!
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