Return to sender – how to avoid buyer’s remorse

As eCommerce continues to increase in popularity, so too does the volume of items being returned. Think about it. Today’s consumers can order whatever they want, at just the touch of a button. With scrolling through retail sites and Instagram stores becoming second nature, it’s pretty easy for many of us to fall into the trap of clicking ‘buy now’ without so much as a second thought. What’s more, according to recent statistics, 30% of shoppers now deliberately over-purchase online and as a result, end up returning several unwanted items. This trend has been coined the rise of the serial returner – with companies like Asos revising their return policies in the hope of encouraging shoppers to become more sustainable in their purchasing habits.

Currently, both brick and mortar stores and web stores are feeling the squeeze and the large numbers of goods being returned is problematic. According to GlobalData, online returns in the UK are now predicted to hit £5.6 billion by 2023 – that’s an increase of 27.3%. However, simply banning returns is not the answer. Customers – who hold more power than ever before – can easily turn elsewhere if they’re not getting the convenience they want from a brand. So, for retailers looking to avoid buyer’s remorse, it’s important to get on the front foot to minimise the chances of a return.

The power of the ‘buy now’ button

Faced with seemingly limitless choices, it’s hardly surprising that time-pressed online shoppers demand a fast, easy and hassle-free purchasing process. The challenge here is that online shoppers are able to ‘shop around’ faster than ever before. This means comparing deals across several websites, before deciding what they need.

The eCommerce sector needs to get on top of this. By tuning into trends that suggest what a customer might be looking for, and anticipating the information they need to affirm their choices, retailers can mitigate the risk of a return by providing exactly that. But, how do they do that?

It’s no longer just an option in the eCommerce sector to equip your webpage with the depth of information a potential buyer will want to see. It’s a necessity. Before making a purchase, many of us want size recommendations, reviews on quality from other shoppers and clear 360-degree images of the product from every angle. To be successful, retailers’ online service tools can help make information readily available and easy to find – to ensure shoppers have everything they need to click ‘buy now’ with certainty. A community of shared information regarding sizing, delivery, and other regular queries, made available through chat functionality augmented by AI, or self-service message boards, playing the role of the in-store assistant to empower the customer to make a meaningful decision.

It’s easy to forget that when shopping in-store, it’s possible to touch and feel the product, whilst also comparing it to other items on the shelf. eCommerce shouldn’t just bring the choice of the shop to the consumer – it should bring the shopping experience too if it is to thrive and reduce the return rate. 

Insights and loyalty

As customers request and share information, it becomes easier for businesses to build up a knowledge bank of information about a product that is most relevant to their purchasing decisions. Creating a space for these conversations to take place ensures that the customer is at the centre of all decisions and actions. By enabling and facilitating a robust community tool, built from the voices of all your customers, potential future customers can trust the decisions they are making online.

Customer loyalty is driven by transparency, quick replies and simple solutions and the community is a great way to extend your self-service. Users in need before making a purchase often turn to the help centre to understand things like how a garment fits or whether product A will work with product B. At the end of the day, the community won’t be shy about letting you know if a self-service article is inaccurate for their use case or doesn’t fully answer the question. This makes the customer-facing content more helpful, which can again, in turn, help ensure customers are getting what they need the first time around. When it comes to e-commerce, the community members are crucial in assisting you to curate and develop suitable self-service content. 

Technology alone isn’t the answer to providing better customer services and reducing buyer remorse. However, it can empower sales, service and marketing teams to better understand customers and in turn, ensure they’re confident in their orders – reducing the likelihood of a return. And when opening that package results in delight, rather than remorse, you can be sure that this customer-centric approach will pay off.