Since product content is efficiently stored and managed, the distribution to the supporting manuals is critical. Retailers should ensure a management process that co-ordinates with the warehouse, logistics, and customer to provide a seamless presentation of the latest versions required.
Systems should be smart to trigger alerts that inform sales and marketers when a new product is introduced without online help or whether an existing product is discontinued. These alerts should be carried one step further to inform the customer who has already brought the product to inform that such changes have occurred. This strengthens your customer relationship and the shopper feels confident in their purchasing decisions.
The content management systems you incorporate within your site require flexibility to create manuals. This avoids unnecessary delays especially during peak seasons where your technical teams are too busy with logistics and supply management.
Based on a survey at 19 European markets, Mintel predicts that these market will grow to 188 billion euros in 2013 from 166 billion euros in 2012.
Britain, France and Germany will remain as the European ecommerce hub by 2018. Spain Poland and Netherlands will grow at faster rate and Norway and Sweden will have the highest online per-capita spend.
A per Mintel, Amazon has outpaced its European rival Otto Germany by a long way. Amazon grew from 9.2% in 2012 to 9.8 percent in 2013, however Otto’s share plunged to 3.3% in 2013 from 3.9 % in 2012.
Online manuals are critical for any ecommerce websites. They guide shoppers to successfully complete the shopping process, update their information, enter payment details etc. Following are some best practices for successfully implementing online manuals.
- Ensure online manuals are up to date with the relevant products.
- Customers and sales teams require notification whenever there is any change to existing or new product manuals.
- Email links to relevant manuals require testing before being sent to customers so that there are no disappointments and returns are guaranteed.
- Manuals are effective tools to enhance your retail brand and also cross-sell and up-sell other products relevant to the main item already sold to customers.
- Standardization is important to the type of format of the online manual. File formats which cannot be opened by potential customers effect incoming business sales.
There are still some reasons for returns that are within your control. Unclear copy or graphics that are hard to associate from the catalog to the web can be remedied and improved upon. Sometimes the retailer’s operational divisions can also make errors in order entry or distribution that adds up to excessive returns. There are also cases where a consumer ordered an item in the spring but did not receive it until late summer. Successful retailers have managed to overcome returns by measuring and analyzing causes of returns, calculating actual costs of returns and creating a plan to reduce the costs and maintain higher levels of customer services.
Identify Reasons for Returns
Though some reasons are predictable some are not and retailers find that they need to identify the merchandise categories that are more likely to generate returns than others.
Calculate Costs of Returns
Once the reasons for the returns of merchandise are found, the next step is to calculate the cost of each variable. This can include cost of materials needed for packing and repackaging, the number of man-hours involved in receiving and processing returns, staff involvement for customer credit cards, inventory management files, etc.
Reducing Costs and Returns
Once the reasons for returns are discovered, you should focus on steps to make sure they do not happen again. Preventing returns as much as possible is the best option. It makes it more pleasant for customers to re-visit a retailer that has improved.
Let Customers Know
Communicate and let customers know your return policy before they make purchases. Retailers should provide information on their site, in the catalog and also at the store that describes their return process.
Return Process Should Be Quick
It always works in your favor if the return process is fast or even faster than the purchases. Since customers have less patience during the return processes, retailers and sales team should expedite the credit or exchange part.
Shoppers who have purchased items from one channel are able to make a return through another. Some retailers accept returns at their stores even though the product was bought online.
Smart Return Processes
Reverse logistics is very important to retain customers and it accounts for what happens to all returned items from the time the customer decides they do not want the particular product. Pre-printed return labels and smart labels enable customers to use the basic standard policy to make returns as easy possible.
Returns are an unavoidable part of merchandising for all retailers and they can be costly in a short term venture. If marketers handle them poorly they will pay the price in customer abandonment.
In this interesting infographic, by Zend desk, the psyche of online customers, their preferences etc are depicted well.