How to Minimize Post-Holiday Returns

Did you know that as much as 30% of holiday eCommerce orders are returned?

Since a high volume of returns can be a serious blow to your seasonal profits, it’s imperative to take steps now to reduce the likelihood of them happening.

Let’s take a look at some practical steps you can take to keep revenue in the bank.

Use images that clearly represent your products

An eCommerce customer can’t feel your product. They can’t touch it and pick it up and turn it around in their hands. Their understanding of the item lies solely in what they see on your site.

coat shown in various angles
Photo ©

Product images sell best when they give the buyer a view from multiple angles and perspectives. When selling clothing, it’s especially important to show models in a variety of shapes and sizes to help viewers more closely relate the item to themselves.

Show the product in full

Again, employ various perspectives, but be sure that the first thing the viewer sees is the full product. It’s okay to zoom in on special features or specific details, but add those after the shopper knows exactly what they’re looking at.

Make the product the focus. Stunning backgrounds are nice to look at, but be careful that you’re not drawing the viewer’s eye away from the product itself. Consider simple one- or two-color backdrops in complementing colors, and quality lighting that allows the item to stand out.

The better they can visualize the product “in real life,” the better chance you have to make the sale and avoid a return.

Add imperative details like measurements and size charts

Nothing initiates a return faster than an item that doesn’t fit. Whether it’s a sweater that’s too small or a pair of slippers that are too big, they’re likely to be sent back.

Helping customers quickly choose the right size makes them happier with their purchase, more confident in your brand, and more likely to keep what they buy.

The Size Chart for WooCommerce extension is critical for store owners selling wearable products like shoes, shirts, sweaters, and more. You can easily create multiple sizing guides and link them to specific products and categories.

Here are just a few of the things you can do with Size Chart for WooCommerce:

  • Display size charts in product tabs or as a popup.
  • Add a size guide by uploading a chart image directly to the page or post.
  • Add custom instructions to help shoppers correctly measure and choose the right size.
  • Create custom charts and attach them to relevant countries.

Size Chart even detects the customer’s location automatically and displays the correct product size guide for their area.

Offer product comparison charts

Being able to compare similar products helps shoppers make informed decisions about which item is right for them without having to leave your site.

Comparison charts also allow consumers to understand if a more expensive product is a better value based on their comparable specifications and features.

Auto-populated comparison tools, like WooCommerce Products Compare, make it easy to offer this convenience to your customers, helping them make better decisions.

comparing several products in WooCommerce

With the Products Compare extension, your customers will see the option to compare products directly on category pages (or any other pages on your site).

By selecting the options they’re considering, they can evaluate important product details side-by-side, as well as prices, customer ratings, inventory levels, and detailed descriptions.

Write clear product descriptions

In your product descriptions, list all of the important details, but try not to oversell them.  According to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, “20% of purchase failures are potentially a result of missing or unclear product information.”

To avoid these lost sales and potential returns:

  • Clearly explain a product’s intended use and what it does.
  • Suggest added values or benefits.
  • Include all relevant and confirmed information.

Product descriptions are a great place to use short paragraphs (two or three short sentences) and bullet points, both of which have been found to help maintain viewers’ attention.

Why are short paragraphs and bullet points important?

Most people have a subconscious aversion to reading long blocks of text, but they love to skim and find the details that are important to them as quickly as possible.

Bullet points provide a clear and concise way to display the most important information.

Include FAQ pages

Unanswered questions can be a key contributor to abandoned carts and dissatisfied customers.

When you don’t have the time to answer every single customer’s question individually, a well-written FAQ page can be the next best thing for retention and sales.

For example, a customer looking at your gluten-free products may want to know what steps you take to avoid cross-contamination with gluten products.

By anticipating shoppers’ questions and providing clear, easy to find answers on your FAQ page, you can significantly bridge the communication gap that’s often an issue in the online vs. face-to-face shopping experience.

A clear and detailed FAQ page can answer shoppers’ questions in real-time, without them having to write an email and wait for a response. It can also keep you from having to respond to the same questions over and over for those customers who are inclined to call you.

This not only frees up your phone lines but minimizes the amount of time that you or your employees have to spend answering questions.

Offer live chat

Customers who can’t get quick, decisive answers to their product questions may be more likely to hesitate or abandon their purchase altogether.

Consumer research group Forrester found that 73% of shoppers say that valuing their time is the most important part of customer service.

In addition to a well-written FAQ page, live chat support is a vital and effective way to show your customers that you respect their time. Live chat keeps the customer on your page, allowing them to find their answers in real-time, instead of seeking them elsewhere — like a competitor’s site.

live chat screen, communicating with customers

The LiveChat extension offers a better shopping experience, increases sales, and improves satisfaction, while providing you and your shoppers a quick, simple-to-use chat window.

Package your products for safety and appeal

At a minimum, your customers should receive the right order, on time, in good condition. This means sturdy packaging, plenty of padding materials, or the use of dry ice, depending on the products you offer.

Here are a few tips:

  • Use the right size box. Boxes that are too large allow items to bounce around and break, or waste resources by requiring excessive amounts of padding. On the other hand, a box that’s too small may not allow enough padding to protect the item.
  • Don’t skimp on the padding. If you’re using bubble wrap, wrap the item itself and seal with tape, then add packing materials to the box to reduce shifting.
  • Use safety labels. A “Fragile,” “Breakable,” or “This Side Up” label lets the shipping carrier know that the contents of the box need to be handled with care.
  • Protect liquids. Always use waterproof bags when shipping liquids and double seal them for safety. One broken bottle of perfume can ruin a whole box of presents, and create a returns headache that no one needs.
  • Use shrink wrap. Shrink wrap is cheap, easy to use, and a great way to keep your products from getting damaged or wet during shipping.

However, the truth is that few buyers are converted into loyal customers when you simply meet their expectations.

High-quality, holiday-themed packaging, packing materials, and shipping products are a fantastic way to delight your customers and help them remember and return to your brand again and again.

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