How to reduce returns in e-commerce with rich product content

product returns ecommerce
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If I told you can minimize ecommerce returns by improving product content, would you be ready to make the necessary adjustments in your business? 

Wrong expectations and inaccurate product content account for more than 20% of product returns in ecommerce. While many factors are hard to control, product content optimization and its regular update on marketplaces/ecommerce websites provide businesses with specific tactics to minimize returns. 

// Why product returns could be more than just a negative experience for brands and retailers? // Reputation is at stake. Churn rates are shaken. Resources are wasted.  Not only shipping costs are added, but also for the restocking of returned products, as well as the possible product value loss over time.

What does product content have to do with minimizing ecommerce returns? 

In times when close human interactions were the main driving force in the sales world, retailers could simply talk buyers out of returning a product or offer alternatives. As a result, a company retained a customer, avoided scandals, and, in the best scenario, converted them into a loyal client. 

// Today’s market lacks a human factor, which makes product information/data the main advocate of a brand. //

Pinpointing the Achilles’ heel of product information/data. 

Often, product content is created by the team of marketers to drive conversions, rather than sales. And precision is not what they’re seeking. 

Which product attributes could misinform or puzzle a buyer and inevitably lead to product returns?

  • Exaggerated info: shipping time range, product features, prolonged expiration date, etc. Showcasing information in the best light could help sales, yes. But it does contribute to the major parts of product returns. 
  • Not specific or unclear product descriptions. Does the customer know your upgraded software does not support, say, Payoneer or other American payment systems integrations anymore? You’ll be lucky if a buyer doesn’t need a feature. But ecommerce is a specific strategical area and every detail would frame the success of a purchase deal. 
  • Wrong info, where the most common feature is size. While it happens rarely in electronics or home appliances, for the fashion industry it’s a major weak point. As well as for Aliexpress. We’ve all suffered from an interesting Chinese perspective on what size M should be like. Just make sure to display sizing charts on your product information.
  • Misleading visuals. It’s tempting to make attractive photoshopped product images, downloaded from free stock sites. In the era of videos, cool pics, and other creative ways to represent a product  — it works. Though failing to provide close-to-reality high-resolution product images is a big reason for returns. For example, if a pair of shoes seemed glossy on a picture, and a customer got regular black shoes with no hint for shiness — the business gets:
  • * an annoyed customer with spammy reviews on every sales channel you operate;
  • * time and human resources spent on dealing with an issue; 
  • * budget spent on shipping, packaging or recycling.

Instead, provide different-style images: 360-degrees, with different perspectives and angles, close-ups, give the ability to zoom in. 

Drawing attention with “golden feathers” is a tactic that works, but an inability to conform with other more practical buyer’s demands could make you at least financially weak.  

Returns prevention techniques or how optimizing product content helps minimize returns.

Rich product content with seamless product imagery, videos, and other information adapted to each sales platform separately becomes a must. Here is what brands and retailers can do:

  • Draft a seamless product description. Focus on your customer’s profile to keep it in mind while writing every single word. Make it easy to read. Provide proof from influencers in a niche. Use video descriptions. List all physical attributes and technical specs (length, color, material, etc.). If your product is complicated — draw tables, graphs. And don’t forget to mention all the product updates. Learn more specs in the article.
  • Integrate only with trusted CSPs (Content Service Providers) to download correct product data. See the Content Catalog Providers comparison table to see which is the best fit for your business. Read more here.

  • Use product catalogs and PIM systems to safely store and manage product feed. PIM ensures your product data feed flows in the right direction and performs its main functions — draws new sales targets, optimizes product data, meets data feed requirements, catches customers’ attention and solves his queries to avoid any misinformation and product returns. PIM lets you collect all product info, starting from the description to configuration, taxation, composition, technical information, hardware version, and other types of accompanying information. Automation is another important factor. Your PIM should be able to automate the process of data management across different sales channels/marketplaces. 

    Bare in mind it's very easy to underestimate the complexity of a process of setting up a PIM. Follow the Roadmap for PIM Implementation advice of Sergey Shvets, a CEO and Founder at Gepard.

  • Set product content syndication across multiple sales channelsOften sellers fail to conform with content validation rules, which results in providing inaccurate and not timely product information. When products are published with delays and uncompleted descriptions and buyers cannot find the precise and correct data, product returns are making inevitable damage. Product content syndication solves these challenges and helps brands and retailers provide product descriptions within the unique requirements of every marketplace worldwide quickly and automatically.

product feed example by gepard ecommerce, SKU, Unique id

  • Operating in B2B and have 2+ partners? B2B Ecommerce Multitenancy Platforms have integration with content providers ensuring timely and accurate product content available according to user roles. Every business relationship is unique and one might need to provide different data for each. Imagine sending product information to the wrong partner? It would be fortunate to notice the mistake at the initial stages of a purchase. Otherwise, if a product is at a delivery stage — business has to deal with returns. 

Though a returned item is a great guinea pig to later analyze data and improve UX, it demands time. Besides, customer returns are not only dangerous to retailers’ and brands’ pockets. It is a massive global problem: 5 billion pounds of goods are estimated to go to landfills per year, says Tobin Moore, CEO of reverse logistics tech company Optoro. So it’s better to be armed beforehand, as every battle is won before it is ever fought.  

Read our Ebook on How to Reduce Returns in Ecommerce with all the statistics and detailed strategy.

product returns ecommerce
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