Today’s consumers have an abundance of options when it comes to purchasing products. In the past decade, the number of online shoppers has increased tremendously and almost half (45%) of consumers now browse Amazon first when looking for a specific product according to a recent survey by inRiver.
Although that is good news for many retailers, there is another side to this equation; the rate at which consumers are returning online purchases has increased as well, causing loss in margins for brands and a poor customer experience for shoppers.
Given the data around the significant numbers of online browsers and buyers, what can retailers do to reduce staggering number of returns that are impacting margins?
Fast Access to Product Information:
Online shoppers want information fast. Consumers are easily discouraged when seeking to purchase if the product information they require is not found quickly or available at all.
How fast do shoppers want their information? In 10 seconds or less. The good news is that 41% of online shoppers won’t consult another online store if all the information they need is provided in the first shop they visit.
But one third (31%) of shoppers will move to another website within 10 seconds if general product information is lacking. The most commonly searched for information is price comparisons (74%), general product information like fabric or ingredients (41%) and reviews (58%).
Knowing your customer preferences is the key starting point when marketing products correctly online. One third (33%) of study respondents say videos that show products in different contexts are most helpful in their buying decision. Additionally, almost one fifth (18%) of respondents want to see products demonstrated by influencers.
Creating videos to showcase product information is helpful, but brands need to know what platforms are preferred by their shoppers too, otherwise, they miss the mark. According to the study, YouTube and Facebook were ranked as two of the most trusted platforms that provide video information about products.
Providing product information across a variety of formats like reviews, descriptions, or videos is important in turning browsers into buyers. While this is great news for brands that shoppers appreciate multiple sources of information, it makes it challenging to deliver consistent, omnichannel product information without a product information management (PIM) solution. Marketing, product, and merchandising teams struggle to create and maintain relevant product information in one channel or format, let alone multiple channels and formats.
Reducing Return Rates:
Product data needs to be accurate, detailed, and consistent. That’s not an insignificant task. How to best do this? Make sure to align your product information with your customers’ expectations. Products that do not meet customer expectations are often returned. In fact, 22% of consumers say the products that they buy online rarely meet their expectations, and nearly half usually or always return items (48%).
Providing products with limited pictures and videos does not make the online shopping experience exciting or engaging. What are shoppers looking for in terms of product information? Details, zoom capabilities to see close up, 360-degree views of products, dimensions, ingredients, and context of how the product or item can be used or bundled. If you are not doing that today, it is likely that product gets returned for not meeting expectations and that impacts the customer experience.
When return rates reach a critical mass, it impacts margins and reduces overall revenues. How much do returns impact business? For some of the UK’s largest retailers, the cost of servicing returns has spiraled to almost £60bn a year. That is never a good thing for even the most customer-focused brands. Revenue matters.
To ensure you deliver the types of product information and content browsers seek before becoming buyers, find out what is most important to them. Learn how to create compelling and consistent product that your shoppers can easily find and what it takes to avoid the margin-draining returns via the Turning Browsers into Buyers report here.