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.
How to promote ROI mindset and mature from an activity-based to a result-driven retailer. There are many suggested options from marketers but the standard things are to build performance metrics, host weekly metrics meet and make the staff accountable for measurable results.
Performance metrics should start with every project having a performance scorecard that includes key performance indicators or KPIs. Weekly metrics meets allows marketing staff to review, discuss and reset direction based on ROI results. And finally ensuring the staff is accountable requires setting personal incentives within individual performance reviews and reward the abilities to meet or exceed the established targets.
Marketers should know that analysis is not an intuitive activity and they need to establish some momentum to infuse the ROI across everything. Some of the processes to initiate measurement within the ROI methodologies are:
Retailers need to focus their reporting on key metrics based on their marketing objectives. If retailers have the primary objective as ecommerce, then standard KPIs would be for average order size and browser to buyer conversion rate. Similarly if the site is geared towards lead generation, then a different set of metrics apply.
Marketers have to analyze data to identify trends and pinpoint areas that needs improvement. Shopping cart conversion funnels helps retailers see what percentage of visitors is lost on the shipping information page as an example. Examining the abandonment paths of the visitors would help further the immediate indication of what needs to be fixed to ensure customers are moving towards conversion stages.
Decision is important
Marketers and retailers after analyzing data are either not too sure of what conclusion to draw from the data and when to decide to make changes. Sometimes all major changes are done at once and results would not be convincing in the later data procured. Multiple changes make it difficult for marketers to know which specific changes had the greatest impact on performance. To avoid this both marketers and retailers need to make one decision at one time so that it can be measured. And action follows decision – you cannot improve results if you do not act upon the analysis.
Retailers measuring the results can plan their next strategies. marketers continue with the strategies and better them if the results are positive and if results are negative then strategies are re-organized and targeted.
Consumers everywhere want to have control over their shopping experience, and not experience any pressure from online salespeople. They want room to shop and decide at their own pace how they would like to add, delete or modify their basket items. Even the slightest interference through online sales push initiatives may irritate them. For retailers to be effective in merchandising, marketers need to understand this behavior.
Here are some tips for this:
1. Do Not Force Sell
Some retailers try to push un-popular products onto consumers. The natural reason for this would be overstock or fewer sales. But instead of creating a sales spike, this action may drive away even new users. Marketers therefore should be careful if they choose to market these products at all.
2. Show the Best Offer Upfront
Marketers should know that whenever they hide a good offer behind a bad offer, they are not doing any justice to their sales. Not only does the user get turned away from the former, but the retailer also loses the chance of sale for the latter.
3. Dare to be Different
Promote personalization with each customer in a different way. If a customer has bought shoes for the first time, marketers should identify and strategize ways to sell other accessories, which would go well with the initial purchase of the product, like socks, watch, handbags, etc.
4. Dynamic Landing Pages
Retailers can take advantage of building a specially merchandized result page, which is used to promote a brand when people are searching for the brand or even the product category.
5. Virtual Shopping
Since the web gives more flexibility to present a product to the consumer, retailers should find creative ways to encompass the same. Products which can be shown in detail should be shown so that the consumer gets a real time feel.
1 To run effective promotions, retailers must be able to confidently define promotions that maximize return on promotional spend. In addition, retailers must be able to accurately predict promotional demand, revenue, and profitability – while assessing what effects the promotions will have on the other products sold.
2 Retail promotions are effective, create interest, fill the niche marketing, can be easily targeted and measured, and finally helps build a relationship with the customers.
3 Two major retail strategies affect consumer response: price format and store format. Retailers typically use the Everyday Low Pricing (EDLP) or Hi-Lo pricing strategy.
4 Store location and breadth of product assortment also impact consumer response to promotions. Retail chains with more stores in a geographic market do not get as much benefit in sales from using feature ads as chains with fewer stores.
5 Important consumer characteristics in determining promotional response are household income, home value, and age.
6 Higher income consumers are less likely to respond to price cuts, but more likely to use feature ads and in-store displays to save time and effort in searching for better prices.
7 For older consumers, physical and mental constraints mean that they are more likely to use feature ads and displays to make searching for better prices easier.
- RSS 2.0 specification is the dominant method of RSS distribution via XML. However, it is plagued by many interoperability issues and the specification is considered ambiguous by most developers. ATOM 1.0 which draws from RSS 2.0 is the specification supported by the IETF and is considered the better specification.
- Use of a feed validator service early and often is highly recommended.
- Ensure unique IDs for articles.
- Support autodiscovery; do not use text/XML content type.
- Use atom:summary for summary data, atom:content for full content.
- Embed well formed XHTML.
- An XSL style sheet is the best method for formatting XML output.
- Using an RSS publishing website such as Feedburner is always a good idea.
- Encourage the practice of embedding license metadata in the feeds.
- Use ping services to notify third parties about feed updates.
- For decent interoperability with reasonable security, use HTTP basic authentication over SSL.
- For excellent interoperability with low security, use obscure feed URLs.
According to a research done by Forrester, “88% of Web buyers say that they have abandoned an online shopping cart without completing a transaction”. The critical part is that the percentage was same five years ago and it shows the merchants hardly did anything to improve this. Since the business is done online, Merchants need to provide valuable offers based on the personal behavior and likes of the customers.
Email Marketing plays a critical role in attracting prospects and customers to the website, however, in the right way. Here we are listing out some proven strategies to improve your Email Marketing.
- Position your ‘subscription’ box strategically – The subscription box should be placed on the top of the website, if possible, near to the search box. This will help to get good visibility
- Email automation – Send emails automatically at Sign-up, post-purchase, Birthdays/anniversaries, Special days, Customer Service Thank-you etc.
- Involve Social Media – create a blog and post about your latest offers, discounts etc and spread the word through social media. This will attract more followers to your website and would possibly get some email subscription.
- Relevancy – Emails should send based on relevancy. Christmas related emails should be send weeks or a month before Christmas and not after Christmas.
These tactics will make sure that your email marketing campaign achieves great success and thereby get more subscribers to the website and of course more sales!
The following lists some recommendations for best practices. Please note that the list is by no means exhaustive and specific to any e-commerce installation. It rather provides a general guideline that will be useful in making specific and detail guideline for a particular e-commerce system.
• Make system as intuitive as possible for end users to use and navigate
• Use enhanced two dimensional or possibly three dimensional views with different perspectives for displaying items by which user will have feeling of looking items from different angles
• The page format, positioning of common fields in page should be standard across pages; for example, put common navigation fields and buttons like Back to home page, help, contact us, search etc. in the same position on pages
• The pages navigation should be friendly – make sure user has to make less horizontal navigation and the system displays the pathway and guides user in navigation process
• Create and/ or use various patterns that people can easily remember
• Give detail description to users about products or services and try to make sure user feels that nothing that he or she would need to know has been hidden
• User should have more freedom in terms of what and how he or she can and can’t do with contents with less restriction, less rigidity of flow, and less mandatory requirements
• Provide convenience to user – put user entered data in sessions so that he or she doesn’t have to type in the same information repeatedly in the same session; make user enter as less data as possible and try to capture more data implicitly as user makes actions or selections in navigation or purchase process
• Put content in organized form – hierarchically, geographically, etc.
• Build and portray strong sense of system security and build confidence in users that his or her private data will not be compromised
• The integration between various functional domains and system domains should look as seamless as possible to user
• Make the system expressive; highlight required fields; tell user up-front if there are any issues; display link to security and privacy policies
• Make the system flexible in ordering process, registration, etc. so that user can change the way he or she can mix and match, update the information easily, etc.
• Provide real powerful and friendly search facility with refine search feature
• Be liberal in showing catalogs; user should be able to see catalogs without needing to input much information
• Always get confirmation from user, inform him or her, and communicate (via email) to user about purchase
• People like to see something in scale or grade. So, show comparison between products
• Show in-stock and out-of-stock items very clearly
• Show the price breakdown clearly
• Allow user to change order at any reasonable point in time
• Ask minimum questions to user while registering. Implicitly capture more information on the basis of user’s actions and selections
• Defer asking many questions up-front and ask the questions as and when required; shipping and billing address, for example, may be asked only when user wants to make purchase
• Use the same information as much as possible. If the shipping address and billing address are the same, do not ask user enter the same address twice. Ask the user if the two are same and if the user confirms that, get the system manage populating data from one to another automatically.
• Explain benefits of registration like personalized web experience, access to user’s order history, more expedited future checkouts, etc.
• As much as possible, present multiple choice-type questions for getting user’s answers
• Allow user to easily un-register and re-register at any reasonable point in time
• Provide ample opportunities for user to sign-in but allow him or her to work anonymously
The risk of up-selling or cross-selling is that it may make your customer question the item he or she thought about purchasing initially. To minimize this, placement of your recommendations is extremely important. The key is to avoid up or cross selling once the customer has decided what items he or she will purchase. The pages you should focus your efforts on are:
The product description page is a prime location for up and cross-sells, because the customer is in an influential state. He or she has not committed to making a purchase and is open to exploring his or her options.
Shopping Cart Page
When customers view the shopping cart page, as opposed to directly going to checkout. It is generally to review the items in the shopping cart page. You can infer that the customer is evaluating the purchase or checking to see if they selected the correct options. This presents another opportunity to up or cross-sell.
Give Weight to your Up and cross-sells by ownership
Taking up-selling and Cross-Selling a bit deeper, you can enhance their effectiveness by influencing customers beyond the product listing. If you apply ownership to the type of people recommending the up or cross-sells, it will give customers a better frame of reference for ordering the product.