There are a few ways in which eTailers can combat returns. According to eConsultancy, only 20% of retail returns are reported to be defective, meaning that the majority of items are returned for other reasons.
Gen Z is notorious for “bracketing, which is buying multiple versions of the same item and returning those that don’t work”, according to Insider Intelligence. And Gen Z’s buying power is growing, they now represent 20% of the population this year, which is in line with Millenials (22%), Gen X (19%), Boomers (21%), Seniors (5%).
To discourage bracketing behavior and lower returns in general, eTailers can do a few things such as institute return fees. Unfortunately staunch policies like these may discourage a purchase in the first place. That’s why it’s worth testing out a few ideas on your product detail pages (PDPs) to decrease return rates.
How to Combat Returns
In order to combat returns, retailers take a critical look at their PDPs and experiments. Keep reading for three unique experiments you can run on your PDPs to keep return rates low.
- Add more sizing and fit information for physical products or ask a question that helps them figure out their size, such as, what size do you wear at another retailer to give them a better idea of what size they are in your product. Let’s face it, every brand’s size 8 fits differently!
In the example below, Abercrombie & Fitch offers visitors the ability to choose the length of a product in addition to the size. The brand also includes customers’ reviews of the product sizing, as well as the model's proportions so visitors can make a more educated purchase.
💡Testing tip: You can test different words and phrases related to sizing to see what resonates with your users. Or, you can let a tool like Intellimize determine it for you with AI Optimize.
- Add social proof like reviews and user-generated content (UGC). Nothing is more powerful than hearing someone’s positive experience with a product or seeing a time you’re interested in in a real home. Wayfair incentivizes users to add photos and reviews on certain products. Nordstrom has their sales associates/stylists showcase products in a video.
💡Testing tip: Try placing reviews above the fold on your PDP
- Have a customer success agent or sales associate alerted when someone is on the site. Trina Turk does a great job of implementing this strategy by texting existing customers/returning visitors when they are on the site to let them know they are there if they need any help or have questions.
💡Testing tip: If SMS isn’t right for your brand, test out language about customer support on your PDPs to make sure visitors know your team is standing by to answer questions.
Larger brands such as Walmart, Target, and Nordstrom are supporting curbside returns, allowing customers to drive up and drop off the return without leaving their cars. But for smaller retailers, returns can come at a hefty cost considering the average cost of a return is around 63% and that doesn’t count restocking costs. Helping consumers during the buying process can stave off high return rates.
~ Tracy Sestili, CMO
Tracy Sestili is a tenured marketing executive leading teams at Intellimize, Fountain, SparkPost (acquired by MessageBird), Cisco, and TiVo. She has previously served on the board of Women for WineSense, and co-founded a nonprofit for lung cancer, for which she received a Bay Area Jefferson Award.