Genevieve Verdier
June 15, 2015 | Direct to consumer, Fulfillment/Shipping | Genevieve Verdier

Reducing online purchase returns

When it comes to online wine sales, some returns are an inevitability. It makes for unhappy customers and can be costly for a winery.  While you can’t avoid returns altogether, there are ways to reduce the number of them.

Opening the door to criticism
One of the primary reasons behind why products are returned or return requests are made is that the item isn't what the customer expected it to be. That's not always a winnable situation, but there are ways you can greatly mitigate that during the purchasing process. One way is to beef up your product descriptions. Consulting firm Ignify recommends improving how you describe your wines to the customer so that they're better informed. The reason for this is that even with nice images of your bottles, consumers need more than a visual element to understand what they're about to purchase.

Another way of matching customer expectations with their purchases is to add a product reviews feature to your site, according to the ecommerce PrestaShop. Product reviews are a valuable tool for customers to get a better idea of what to expect. This is especially the case if the wine is not available outside of the tasting room or the online store. Without a way to effectively try out a bottle beforehand, these reviews are the next best thing. Displaying these reviews prominently can help customers better decide if they want to purchase.

Now, there might be a worry that you'll get some negative reviews based on customer experiences. But the important thing to consider is that combining both positive and negative reviews can help customers decide if the product is right for them. Getting it right the first time will not only mean that customers will return their items less, but will also be less likely to leave a negative review.


Checking it twice
Another reason that orders get returned is a matter of human error. A customer may have purchased a bottle of pinot grigio, only to find on delivery that he or she got a bottle of pinot noir and cabernet blend instead. In other cases, the consumer was sent a defective bottle.  For wine shipments, breakage usually occurs during shipping. 

The best way to deal with this problem is to run internal checks on everything you intend to ship out, as E-commerce Facts suggests. You should regularly inspect your bottles for any signs of breakage before they are placed in an order. In addition, just before the order is sent out, have someone review the contents of the box with the order manifest. If there's a mismatch, send it back or get the correct items before handing it off to a courier. These internal processes are surprisingly uncommon among ecommerce sites. But if you perform them, you stand to benefit from reduced returns.



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