Among Shopify merchants, jewelry and watches is one of the most popular product categories, second only to apparel. According to one estimate, approximately 12% of all Shopify stores sell jewelry and/or watches. 

Of course, these shops’ products can vary greatly in value. Some shops may sell plastic jewelry that retails for just $10, while others may sell diamonds and precious gemstones worth thousands of dollars. 

Regardless of your merchandise selection, it’s important to stand behind it with a return policy that works for your brand so that your buyers will feel confident when making a purchase. 

However, because returns can take a big chunk of your profit margin, you should also consider strategies for optimizing the sales process to reduce the number of returns your buyers will make. 

By ensuring that you’re meeting your buyers’ expectations on every level, from product quality to shipping time, you’re more likely to ensure that they’re happy with their delivery. 

And when a buyer does want to send back a product, you can find opportunities to turn those returns into exchanges, which will help you retain revenue and extend a long-term customer relationship.

Reduce the number of returns by exceeding customer expectations

Here are some tips for building a great customer experience that results in fewer returns.

Perfect your product photography

Particularly when it comes to high-end jewelry and watches, customers want to get an accurate sense of what they’re going to receive in the mail. If the product doesn’t match their expectations, they’ll immediately seek a refund and probably won’t give you a second chance.

In order to make sure you’re matching their expectations, it’s important to prioritize high-quality product photography that showcases your products up close from multiple angles. The photographs should be taken against a white background, and should use soft lighting from a natural light source or studio. You can also create some photos that include models wearing the jewelry, so customers will be able to better understand its dimensions and see how it would look on them. 

Even better, create 360-degree photography that lets you showcase the jewelry and watches from every angle, enabling the customer to rotate the product in any direction to get an accurate understanding of what your product looks like. An Adobe Scene7 Viewer study found that 91% of shoppers would like the ability to view 360-degree photography before making a buying decision. Taking it a step farther and including product videos can increase your conversion rate by 144%

You can even consider using AR visualization to help customers see how the products would look on them. Shopify found that AR technology helped merchants cut returns by 40%

Provide detailed product information with easy access to live support

Each product page should include a detailed description of the product, with a list of the materials and dimensions. If the product is size-dependent, you should include a link to your sizing guide (more on that soon). 

However, the product descriptions may not answer all of your customers’ questions, so it’s important to give them access to more support if they need it when they’re trying to decide what to buy. For example, you can include a chatbot that provides instant links to information snippets from your knowledge hub based on their search terms. If they have a more specific question that isn’t answered there, they should be able to connect with a live customer support agent, who can address any concerns and help them decide which product will suit them best.

Include a sizing guide

When it comes to jewelry items such as rings and watches, customers may be purchasing them as gifts and not know the recipient’s size – a recipe for a lot of returns.

Encourage them to confirm the size that the recipient needs in advance, so they won’t need to return or exchange the item. Many online jewelry stores offer detailed sizing guides with multiple options for determining a ring size: For example, the Australian merchant By Charlotte includes options for measuring ring size with an existing ring, by using a piece of string, and by purchasing a $3 ring sizer. 

Provide real-time tracking information

Another common reason for product returns is that the product doesn’t arrive when it was expected, and is too late for an occasion. Make sure that you use a reliable mail carrier, and that you provide your customer with accurate, trackable shipping information, so that they’ll instantly be notified if there’s a change in delivery date. 

All of these tips can help you cut down your returns on jewelry and watches. But when returns do happen, how can you provide a great experience that will encourage the customer to give your brand another shot?

Provide a great returns experience that results in retained revenue

Even if you follow all of our best practices, you’ll still end up seeing some returns. The average return rate in the ecommerce jewelry market is slightly more than 8%. 

So what can you do to provide a superior returns experience that encourages customers to buy from you again?

Provide a flexible returns policy

Customers care about your returns policy, and 67% check your returns policy page before making a purchase. They want to ensure that if a product isn’t working out for them, they won’t face hassles when it comes to getting a return. 

That means you should ensure that you’re standing behind your products by offering a warranty, as Pura Vida does on its bracelets if they break within one year of purchase. 

It’s also important to be generous when it comes to your return window, offering at least a 30-day return window for any reason if the jewelry or watch is in new condition. 

Finally, make sure that you’re flexible when it comes to exchanges, especially as many customers may need to exchange an item for a new size. Brands like Qualo, for instance, offer free exchanges for new ring sizes. 

However, make sure that you put any exceptions in your return policy. If your store offers engraving and other forms of personalization, you should make it clear that these items are not returnable unless there is a material defect, as you won’t be able to resell them.

Encourage more exchanges

If a customer returns an item, that can often be the end of the line for your customer relationship. If you’re able to transform that return into an exchange, you’ll be able to retain more revenue, and extend the value of that customer relationship. That can result in additional sales and referrals, helping you boost your bottom line without additional spend on acquisition.

That’s why it’s worth setting up an optimized workflow that incentivizes exchanges.

When customers want to process a return, they should be able to enter a self-service portal that gives them options for why they want to return the item, such as “too large,” “too small,” “wrong color,” “didn’t like the style,” etc. Based on the customer’s response, you’ll be able to offer recommendations for product exchanges directly from your inventory, whether that means offering a ring in a new size or showcasing a completely different style of emerald bracelet or waterproof sports watch. The customer should be able to approve the exchange without getting store credit first, and simply receive a credit or pay a little extra for the difference in cost between the items.

In fact, you can make it even more enticing to exchange an item by offering them a little bonus cash to use towards an exchange. This will often encourage them to make an exchange for a higher-value item, helping you increase revenue beyond the initial purchase value.

Use the right technology

In order to turn more returns into exchanges and automate the entire returns workflow, it’s important to have the right technology in place. Using a returns management solution like Loop can help you consolidate customer support requests and empower customers to navigate the returns and exchange process seamlessly. It will guide them through a streamlined workflow that will incentivize them to transform their returns into exchanges – our customers retain an average of 40% of revenue on returns through exchanges. 

Interested in learning more about how Loop can transform your jewelry or watch brand return process? Contact our team today.