Get To Know Your Return Personas: Serial Returners Vs Single Spenders

By Laura Garrett

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from working in the returns space, it’s that one size does not fit all, and the same applies to retailer buying personas. Whether that’s ‘the discount chaser’ attracted by a mega sale or coupon code, ‘the last minute shopper’ driven by fast delivery options or ‘the impulse buyer’ who loads their basket up on a whim, segmenting shoppers into buying personas is a smart way to personalise marketing promotions.  

 We’d like to put your perception of ‘the single spender’ to the test. You’re probably familiar with the first-time shopper who purchases one item and never shops with you again. These tricksters are the antithesis of your customer retention and loyalty schemes. But there are huge gaps in their profile when it comes to understanding their returns behavior. Consider the single spender who makes one purchase and returns it. All they leave behind for the retailer is the cost of processing their return and refund. If not handled effectively, retailers can end up six-feet under their mound of returns. Whilst the body of proof in the warehouse is much clearer with the physical build up of returned parcels, the hidden evidence is in the data.

Reconverting these single spenders is a tall order, but the truth behind them can no longer be ignored. First impressions count, so if a shopper had a bad experience the first time round, it’s likely they won’t be visiting your website again any time soon. Your best bet is to put all the relevant steps in place to make sure their first experience is a positive one, and that this positive experience doesn’t turn into a total nightmare post-purchase.

Here’s a few tricks you can try out to minimise the risk of alienating a first time buyer.

A Disappearing Act 

Have you considered that you might be being ghosted by your own customers? Unlike repeat shoppers, single spenders disappear without a trace. Almost invisible, and harder to detect, they’re often forgotten about, with returns analysts usually focusing on the serial returner and loyal customers. You can actually learn a lot from these shoppers. They can offer insightful information that your loyal customers wouldn’t necessarily point out to you as they’re giving out different signals. In 2016, Clear Returns discovered that 80% of first time shoppers who return their purchase never buy from that brand again. “Not only meaning their cost of acquisition is wasted but the customer’s lifetime value is also lost”. Vicky Brock who founded Clear Returns and is now Director of Data Innovation for ReBound still believes this to be true. If you missed Vicky’s presentation at The Returns Revolution conference earlier this month, you can view the slides here.

Delight or Disaster?

It’s a game we all play when we shop online. Will the product that arrives actually be what we’re expecting, or have the product descriptions and photoshopped images deceived us? When the latter occurs, a single spender is revealed. As a retailer, it’s your job to make sure your product descriptions are as accurate as possible, and your images are a true to life representation.

Any blog giving advice on how retailers can reduce their return rate always starts by telling retailers they should take a look at their with product descriptions and the same can be said for helping convert single spenders into repeat customers. However, we’d advise you focus on converting single spenders, not deterring them. So give shoppers as much information about your products as possible. This can be done in a number of simple ways such as informing shoppers what size the model is wearing, using videos to show a 360 degree view of the item. Another tactic you can try is to lean on shopper reviews, the good, bad and the ugly! By allowing shoppers to see the naked truth, this will help them to make a more informed purchase decision. If you want to take it a step further, combine fit analytics tools with returns data like ASOS do to show how many people bought the item and kept it. 

Utilising The Data

When you ask shoppers why they’re sending something back, whether via an online returns portal or interpreted from a handwritten returns form, there’s a wealth of data that you should be capturing, analyzing and utilising. Take a deep dive into the data and look at why items are being returned. Are your common return reasons fit-related? Do you see ‘too small’ stated more than ‘too big’? If so, your product range may need resizing. Is the fabric not what the shopper was expecting? Maybe it’s time to update your images and product descriptions? Or does this tell you that you’ve got a manufacturing issue because the quality isn’t up to scratch? By analyzing this data, it allows you to spot faults, sizing issues and problems with your clothing. Fixing these issues could ultimately save you money in the long run, as well help to reduce the number of single spenders you come across in the future.

The Final Straw

When a shopper receives something that wasn’t what they were expecting, the chances of them purchasing again drops considerably. The last chance you have to impress and reconvert is during the returns journey. A study by UPS indicates that 45% of shoppers will make an additional purchase when processing a return online.  Make sure your returns process isn’t the final straw by switching to an online return experience. By creating a digital return journey, you can bridge the gap in their post-purchase experience as you’ve got the opportunity to leverage your returns communications to entice them to place a replacement order. The ReBound returns platform even gives retailers built-in advertising space at the final step of the return journey to encourage shoppers to revisit the retailers website through discounts, or promotions.

If a customer has already had a painful experience with you, asking them to pay for their return postage will likely rub salt in the wound. 86% of shoppers say they would resent having to pay for returns (according to a 2018 study by Optoro). So, you should consider offering free returns (both in the UK and Internationally). Another tactic to enhance the return journey is to focus on convenience through a variety of return methods. This can range from drop-off points, courier collections or even parcel lockers.

If you need to focus on improving your customers return experience, be sure to get in touch. With end-to-end return tracking, a range of return options and an easy to use platform, we don’t just get your stuff back to you, we’re re-inventing the way the world returns.


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