While most merchants have formulated plans for innovative content and discounts for the upcoming holiday season, another area worthy of attention may have escaped scrutiny: the “fine print” that explains in detail the logistics of delivery, returns and product guarantees.
While this topic may seem downright boring compared with free shipping offers or social media promotions, the information conveyed in policy statements is vital for shoppers. Consider these statistics, from a recent comScore/UPS study:
Two-thirds of shoppers review merchant return policies before purchasing products.
More than 60% of shoppers said the ability to purchase online and return in-store was a factor in purchase consideration, while 44% said the ability to buy online and pick up items in-store would encourage them to purchase.
Knowing the shipping cost and estimated delivery timeframe was second only to a free shipping offer as a purchase influencer, sought by 53% of shoppers.
More than one in five shoppers said they’ve abandoned sites when no estimated delivery date was provided early in the purchase process.
In addition, the availability of simple, across-the-board policies is now a key brand differentiator when compared with Amazon.com, eBay, and other sites whose wares are sold by a variety of vendors, each of whom may have different shipping charges or gifting services. Especially heading into the hectic holiday season, merchants should flaunt this ease and convenience.
In short, while it’s likely too late for merchants to overhaul the substance of their policies before the holiday season, boosting visibility and access to the information is a worthwhile project that can boost sales and brand reputation. A few tactics to consider:
Write “product descriptions” for policies — and promote accordingly. Assign your merchandising copywriters the task of crafting shipping and returns information and product guarantees that are as enticing as product descriptions. Make them succinct, too, so that they can be promoted in a variety of locations throughout the path to purchase — much as you would promote cross-sell products. (If the legal team balks, simply include a link to the original long-winded policy at the end of the new version.)
MarketLive merchant Title Nine has dubbed its return policy the “360 Guarantee” and promotes it prominently on the eCommerce site — in the global footer, on a tab on the product page, and in the cart, with the tagline “No questions. No hassles. No kidding.”
Amp up policy information around gift cards. With the popularity of gift cards for the holidays, merchants should ensure that policies surrounding their offerings are crystal-clear and prominently accessible. Details to cover include:
What denominations are available
For physical cards, different design options as available
Delivery options for both virtual and physical cards. For virtual cards, merchants should communicate whether mobile or social media versions are available and if so, how they operate.
Redemption rules both online and in physical stores for both physical and virtual cards
Not only does such information assist shoppers contemplating a gift card purchase, but the gift card information hub can be a compelling landing page for campaigns centered on gift card giving. From a link in the global navigation for MarketLive merchant Sport Chalet, shoppers access a dedicated gift card store that includes prominent links to frequently-asked questions and customer support, along with clear delineation of the two purchase options available which outlines online/offline redemption options, delivery methods and more.
Find a way to communicate delivery timelines across touchpoints. With the timing of gift delivery a crucial factor during the holidays, merchants must do what they can to give shoppers an accurate arrival estimate as early as possible in the purchase process. While not every merchant can dynamically display a specific delivery date, posting a timeframe for each type of shipping service offered gives shoppers the means to gauge which option is right for them. MarketLive merchant Party City includes shipping information on a tab on the product page, outlining the brand’s same-day fulfillment policy and linking to a ground-shipping delivery map showing the number of days orders spend in transit. The information is also promoted in the global footer.
How are you promoting crucial fine-print policies for the holidays and beyond?