Industry Trends

How to Combat E-commerce Returns during the Holidays

September 5, 2023

It's common knowledge that the end-of-year holidays are a big deal for retail. According to Insider Intelligence, holiday e-commerce in the United States is expected to hit $236 billion, with total retail sales topping $1.3 trillion. Deloitte sets a slightly higher projection, predicting total sales as high as $264 billion and $1.47 billion, respectively. 

It is, notes the analyst, slightly slowed growth compared to last year, likely owing to the recession. Even so, the holidays still represent an enormous opportunity, albeit one that's easy to mismanage. Lost sales aside, one result of that mismanagement is a surge in product returns. 

Holiday gifts are returned at a far higher rate than regular purchases — up to 35% for e-commerce. In 2021, UPS predicted a 23% increase in returns over 2020, the eighth year in a row with an increase. There is every indication that 2022 will be the ninth. 

Let's talk about how you can lower that number while simultaneously making every return a potential opportunity for repeat business. 

Check Your Product Detail Pages

At the absolute minimum, your product detail page should include an accurate and concise product description, high-quality product photos, and customer reviews. You'll also want to optimize it for search so that it's easily discoverable both through your site and via Google. Beyond all of this, you need to provide immersive shopping experiences — but we'll talk more about that in a moment. 

Assess Your Checkout Process

The average shopping cart abandonment rate is just under 70%. While some of that can be attributed to customers reconsidering purchases for their own reason, it's far likelier that if your cart abandonment rate is that high, there are some serious issues with your checkout process. These may include:

  • A lack of flexible payment options. 
  • No trust badges/assurances of secure payment. 
  • A restrictive or unfavorable return process. 
  • Confusing or deceptive shipping costs. 
  • A lack of express shipping. 
  • Technical or performance issues. 

Beyond optimizing for/addressing the above, automated cart abandonment emails can help you recapture a large portion of lost leads. Providing customers with gifting options at checkout — such as gift wrapping, hidden receipts, and personalized messaging — is also a must. 

Embrace Immersive Shopping With Tangiblee

Most of what we've covered so far could be considered table stakes for online retailers. If you really want your brand to stand out, you'll need to take things one step further. You'll need to provide a more immersive shopping experience — one that not only limits returns and customer service requests but also promotes cross-selling.

That's where Tangiblee comes in. Trusted by some of the world's top brands, our augmented reality and interactive commerce platform arms you with a range of lightweight options for providing a better shopping experience.  

Tangiblee Compare, for instance, allows shoppers to visualize how products look in a real environment. This includes placing them side-by-side with products from your catalog, previously-viewed items, everyday items, and even entities like people and pets.

Our Virtual Room Staging feature builds on this functionality, providing customers with an interactive virtual space which allows them to swap out products through engagement with multiple click points. 

For brands that sell accessories and jewelry, meanwhile, there's Virtual Try-On, which leverages your existing product images and content to let customers see how they'd look with certain items, even stacking multiple items in the same image.

Taken together, the above features allow your brand to provide a better, more dynamic, more engaging shopping experience — one that places your products front-and-center in the minds of customers by simultaneously conversions and reducing the likelihood of returns.

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