The Month of Returns [and How to Fix It]

Free shipping, free returns - two critical offers that help online shoppers make a decision whether to buy from a retailer or not.

The costs of these offerings, however, have to go somewhere. January is likely the month that ecommerce merchants are feeling the brunt of returns, following the holiday season, so it's a good time to re-evaluate what people are seeing on the site versus what they are getting in real life. According to PowerReviews, the key is to make sure shoppers know exactly what to expect from the products they order. That way there are no surprises when the item arrives on their doorstep. A study from Shorr Packaging found that the top reason shoppers return merchandise is because the product wasn't what they expected. 

PowerReviews provides three tips for reducing returns.

1. Feature Ratings and Reviews

A consumer who shops in-store has the benefit of experiencing a product firsthand before making a purchase. With more and more consumers craving the convenience of online shopping, brands need to bring this comprehensive product information online. Ratings and reviews are one of the best ways to provide this important so consumers can get information and feedback from real shoppers.

2. Allow Shoppers to Submit Photos and Videos

Visual content is quickly becoming an expected part of the purchase journey. While professional photos and videos are important, a growing number of shoppers specifically look for visual content from other consumers. In fact, a recent PowerReviews study found that 88 percent of consumers seek out user generated photos and images when browsing for products. Allowing shoppers to submit photos and videos as part of their reviews helps future shoppers make the best purchase decisions. 

3. Allow Your Customers to Ask Questions

Regardless of how thorough product descriptions are, shoppers will likely still have questions. This is especially true if they're shopping for products that require a higher level of consideration, due to factors such as cost and lack of familiarity. Implementing a Q&A solution provides shoppers with a way to get their questions answered and identify the products that will best fit their needs. Well informed purchases mean less returns - and therefore fewer shipping expenses.