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3 Ways to Increase Shopper Confidence to Reduce Returns

Make your apparel business more profitable by reducing returns and creating a more seamless buying experience.

It’s no secret that returns are a top concern for apparel brands. Some estimate that $761 billion of merchandise is returned each year. This has big implications for a business’s bottom line, as well as environmental impacts on the planet.

But getting to the bottom of why people return and how best to reduce it isn’t as straightforward as some would like to admit. We’ve partnered with our friends at Loop to dive into common reasons why people return and offer steps for brands to take to reduce their return rate while increasing shopper confidence.  

Common Reasons Why People Return

Most returns come down to the item being different than what the shopper expected. And at the top of that list is fit. By some estimates, fit issues can account for nearly half of all apparel returns. Other commonly cited reasons are “Items don’t suit me” and quality issues.

Identifying trends for why shoppers return your products can lead to important insights for your product development and marketing teams, but only if the data can be trusted. 

Why Measuring Return Data is so Difficult

As an apparel brand, you’ve likely spent time digging into your specific return data to see if you can glean insights and identify fixable patterns.

The truth is, return data is fraught with inaccuracies and should be taken with a grain of salt. It relies on brands having the right fields in their questionnaire, as well as customers accurately self-reporting. Often, we see brand survey questions that are too broad to account for individual shoppers’ unique circumstances, leaving people to provide feedback that may be inaccurate or incomplete based on their situation.

As a brand, it can be dangerous to make too many assumptions off this data. Instead, brands should implement tried and tested methods for improving the shopper experience and watch their return rate decline.

Tips to Increase Shopper Confidence & Reduce Returns

Provide more accurate sizing recommendations

Since product fit is such a massive reason why people return, arming shoppers with advanced size selection capabilities is one of the simplest ways to drive down returns and increase customer satisfaction.

Shoppers of your brand can be split into four categories: Buyers and Non-Buyers as well as Keepers and Returners. Using an AI-driven sizing tool allows you to more accurately understand the profiles of each group, so you can tailor the shopping experience to appeal to your Buyers and Keepers. 

Shoppers want to be confident in their purchases – both in terms of quality and fit. In fact, 70% of eCommerce shoppers would buy more clothing if they didn’t have to worry about sizing. 

Build better product display pages (PDPs)

Personalized and detailed PDPs ensure shoppers can easily find the information they are looking for when deciding whether to make a purchase. Shoppers want to see themselves in the product images and feel confident that the item that arrives is as it was portrayed on the eCommerce site. 

To give shoppers confidence in hitting “Buy” brands can implement these 3 strategies: 

  1. Correctly target product imagery: Ensure your site displays fit model imagery that aligns with your buying audience. Understanding who is buying – age, location, etc. – and then tailoring product imagery to that audience will further build loyalty with your existing audience and attract new customers who fit your Buyer and Keeper audience profile. Want to take it a step further? Ensure the marketing team is armed with the demographic data so that they can tailor content and channel selection to the best audience. 
  2. Don’t skimp on product details: Again, your goal throughout the entire buying journey is to instill confidence in a shopper to make a purchase. Adding details like materials, care directives, and sizing information are all crucial elements that shoppers want to know. Want to take it a step further? Consider adding video of the product for added transparency. 
  3. Clearly display return and shipping policies: We go into more detail in the next section, but including return and shipping details directly on the PDP means shoppers won’t have to hunt for the information they want to know prior to purchase. Every extra step you require to find the information they need gives them an opportunity to abandon their cart. 

Ensure return policy is seamless and easy to find

The reality is that you’ll never get your return rate down to zero. There will always be some percentage of people who need to return an item for one reason or another. And that’s ok. The important thing is to make the return process as easy as possible so that the customer’s last touchpoint with your brand is positive. This will increase the likelihood that they’ll come back in the future and buy from your brand again.

According to Loop’s 2023 Ecommerce Returns Benchmark Report, 98% of consumers agree that if a retailer provides a fast, convenient, and hassle-free return experience they’re more likely to shop with them again in the future. And most consumers (87%) say they’re likely to purchase from a new brand if they know that the brand offers post-purchase incentives like discounts on future items or an unlimited return window.

Here are 3 ways you can make returns more profitable:

  1. Focus on your customer’s experience: Creating post-purchase experiences that your customers love should be your top priority. Whether that means automating returns through an easy-to-use portal or offering generous return policies. Placing your customer’s happiness front and center is key to customer acquisition, retention, and lifetime value. 
  2. Think exchange- or retention-forward: You may think making returns “easier” for customers means you’ll lose more money. But that’s not true. If you embrace exchanges, or retention tactics like store credit/gifting, you will transform returns into returning customers. Because you’ll empower them to not only return their unwanted items but exchange them for another item they may end up loving.
  3. Offer popular (and cost-effective) options: Now let’s talk logistics. Returns aren’t just digital experiences, so getting this right will also make your business more profitable. In particular, offering popular return options like at-home pickup or box-less drop-offs will delight your customers while saving (or making!) you dollars. And the best part? Customers are willing to pay for these premium return experiences, creating another opportunity for you to improve profitability.

Sure, reducing returns to zero may not be possible. But what is possible is reducing unnecessary returns, which are costly, annoying, and quite frankly, avoidable. And the easiest way for you to make your returns more profitable is by using a return management software like Loop.

Want to learn more about how WAIR and Loop work together to simplify the return process and arm your team with advanced return data? Get in touch today for a demo.

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