Your Biggest Post-BFCM Problem

Hey Hi!

Busy week here. I’ve been in the Yotpo office for most of the week, staying at a nearby boutique-ey NYC hotel.

It’s only been a few weeks since I joined, but it feels like a year and a half, and it’s been a blast. We’ve got so many exciting things to announce in the coming months–truly can’t wait to share.

As an introvert who never knows how to control myself, I have gone out three nights this week, and while I love seeing fellow industry folks, I am ready to get back into hibernation. 

Jokes on me, though. We are heading to Tel Aviv on Sunday morning, and I’ll be there for ten days to see family and get some work done in our TLV Yotpo office. Look out for some photos of Hummus hitting the feed throughout the week. 🤣

Okay, let’s talk business.

While most of us are still dealing with the Black Friday Cyber Monday madness, a new fun debacle is coming down the pipeline: Returns. 😵‍💫

Yep, with the boatload of new customers and return customers trying new products comes a wave of returns. 

Today, we’ll chat about smart strategies to tackle the post-BFCM return spike. I’ll give you practical and tactical ways to turn a potential loss into a win-win – nudging customers towards exchanges, maybe even sweetening the deal with a bit of extra store credit. 

It's not just damage control; it's strategic customer retention.

Ready? Grab a notepad.

This week’s newsie is brought to you by Loop, the leading ecommerce returns management platform and a tool we’ve used (and loved) at both OLIPOP and Jones Road Beauty. 

For brands looking to decrease their return costs, increase revenue, and improve their customer experience, particularly in the often-overlooked area of returns, Loop is the returns management platform you can't afford to ignore.

How Loop Returns is revolutionizing returns management:

Return Automation & Efficiency: Loop transforms the returns process into an automated, streamlined experience. Their digital return portal not only makes returns and exchanges easy for shoppers to use (and enjoy), but it also saves brands time and money.

Revenue Retention & Growth: Loop doesn’t just process returns. They transform returns into returning customers. That means shoppers get to enjoy a returns process that gets them to come back again and again, all while brands like yours retain more revenue through exchanges, store credit, and other features. In fact, JRB made more incremental revenue from our returns upselling than our monthly Loop bill. 🤣

Enhancing Customer Loyalty: Returns are a critical touchpoint in the customer journey, and Loop makes sure this experience is positive, driving customer loyalty through a hassle-free returns process. Their data shows that shoppers who process returns through Loop return and buy again from the same brand 21 days faster than from brands that don’t use Loop.

Sustainable & Fraud-Preventative Approach: Return fraud and abuse are hot topics right now. Thankfully, Loop is well ahead of it. They empower brands to mitigate returns fraud and abuse smartly, without punishing loyal customers, to protect brands’ bottom line.

Over the last five years, Loop has made a significant impact on ecommerce.

Here are a few examples:

Aviator Nation: Reduced refund rate by 11%, boosting upsells and exchanges.

Studs: Retained additional revenue on over 20% of returns, aiding in their scaling efforts.

Saint & Sofia: Retained 50.5% of returns revenue annually using Loop.

Loop doesn’t just manage returns. Loop transforms a negative and costly touchpoint into a delightful and profitable experience for brands and their shoppers.

To learn more about Loop, check them out here.

Okayyy, let's dive right into it. BFCM returns can be a legit tidal wave of orders being returned, but guess what? 

There's a silver lining. 

You can get a bit more clever with these returns and make them work for you.

1. Mastering the Art of Exchanges

Sure, returns are a pain, but exchanges?

That's where the real magic happens. 

Instead of losing a customer and your hard-earned revenue, you can have an opportunity to WOW them again with a product they end up loving. You can end up with the revenue in your pocket, plus add some additional “LTV.”

Incentivizing Exchanges: Here’s a thought – let’s bribe, I mean, incentivize our customers a tad. 

How about throwing in an extra $10 in store credit when they opt for an exchange instead of a refund?

Depending on your margin, $10 in store credit costs you a lot less than $10, but the perceived value to the customer is still $10, and you get to retain your hard-earned money instead of refunding the entire thing. 

The goal is to make the exchange option so attractive they can't resist. It's a win-win; they get more value, and you retain the sale.

Streamlining the Exchange Process: Have you ever tried returning something online and felt like you're solving a complex puzzle?

I’ve heard of brands that make customers reach out via email, fill out forms, get a box, and cover shipping themselves. 

Let’s not do that to our customers. Make exchanges easy-peasy.

While you might feel great about them maybe avoiding to return, you sure as hell are making sure they never purchase again or have a negative experience with your brand that they share with their friends. 

Go for a clear, concise exchange policy, an effortless online exchange portal, and a proactive customer support team ready to jump in.

Remember, even if they hate your product, they might still be a brand advocate if you have a sensational customer experience. 

We saw that frequently at both OLIPOP and Jones Road. Some folks disliked the taste of stevia but still told their friends to try OLIPOP if they were looking for a better-for-you soda.

They understood taste preferences vary, and they loved how easy it was to get a refund when they disliked the flavor. 

Same with JRB, while not every product worked for every single skin type, a great returns experience made folks love the experience even if the product did not work for them.

2. Unearthing Gold from Return Reasons

Every return has a story, and we’re here to play detective. This isn’t just about tallying up losses but learning, adapting, and ensuring they keep the darn thing next time.

Deep Dive into Return Data: Let's get Sherlock Holmes on this. Why are these products coming back? Too big? Too small? Not the right shade of teal? (Loop makes it extremely easy to do this.)

It is worth mentioning that this data is more than just feedback; it’s a roadmap to improvement. Use this data to inform your product development, tweak inventory, or maybe speak with your product design team.

Especially on the CX side, we often feel like “everyone hates x” or “this product color is most hated,” but sometimes we are missing the data, and it’s just qualitative.

Data tells you a story that helps you take your head a bit higher above water to better understand what is happening.

In the next few weeks, I’d love to dive deeper into understanding how to set up these return reasons that customers can choose from in the first place.  

Rethinking Marketing Strategies: High return rates might scream that we got our marketing wires crossed. 

Are we overselling? Setting wrong expectations? Time to realign. 

Let’s ensure our product images are honest (yes, that means no weird DALL-E wizardry), descriptions are clear as day, and our marketing speaks the truth. More on that in a bit.

Paint a realistic picture of what customers will actually be getting. Remember, no surprises, no returns.

3. Enhancing Product Information and Customer Education

Let's face it: nobody likes surprises when it comes to online shopping, except for those surprise spin-to-win discounts; keep those coming. 😏

When a product arrives, and it's nothing like what was expected, you bet there will be a return ticket with its name on it. 

Here’s where we tighten up our game:

Crystal Clear Descriptions: We must be brutally honest with our product descriptions. If it's a bright red, say it's a bright red, not a subdued crimson that might pass off as maroon in dim lighting. 

Get real with the descriptions; the more accurate they are, the lesser the chances of returns. And, please, for the love of all that is good, ensure your sizing charts are helpful.

Visuals that Don't Lie: This is 2023, and if your product images still look like they were shot with a potato, we need to talk. High-quality, true-to-life images are a must.

 Show your product from every angle – and in different settings if you can. Let the customer know exactly what they're getting. And no, adding a filter that makes it look ‘Instagram perfect’ doesn’t count.

Educational Content is King: Sometimes, customers just don't know how to use the product correctly. It's on us to educate them. How-to videos, detailed guides, FAQs – let's get this content out there. If they know how to use it, they might just keep it.

4. Implementing a Robust Feedback System

Okay, so the product came back. Let's not sulk; let's learn. A solid feedback system is like having a heart-to-heart with your customers without the awkwardness or setting up Zoom calls. 

Easy Feedback Process: If giving feedback feels like filing taxes, guess what? No one's going to do it. Make the feedback process as painless as possible. A simple form, a few clicks, and we're good. Remember, we want their thoughts, not their life story. (Loop makes it easy to do during the actual return process.)

Act on the Feedback: This part is crucial. If customers say the sleeves are too tight, maybe it's time to revisit the design. If they say the instructions were as clear as mud, let's rewrite them. It's about taking action on what they're telling us.

Close the Loop: Let customers know their feedback wasn't just hurled into the void. Follow up and tell them what changes were made. It shows we care, and hey, it might just turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal one and add some extra revenue to your month. 

For some reason, Returns have always been viewed as an operational sort of thing. Sometimes it even gets tossed solely on CX. 

Realistically, Returns can be a massive Retention opportunity, and when done well, can help drive the entire business forward across all teams.

If you learn anything from this week's newsie, I hope it’s this:

Your returns situation deserves an extra look.

That’s it for this week!

Any topics you'd like to see me cover in the future?

Just shoot me a DM or an email!


Eli 💛