The role of marketing to avoid product returns in online shopping : how marketers help online consumers to make better purchase decisions and thus avoid product returns
Abstract: The increasing alarm about global climate change and the related consequences on the planet and humankind has raised the voices to adopt sustainability within organisations and businesses. The wide spread of the internet and smart devices allowed many consumers to buy their needs through smart devices without the need to travel to physical stores. Online shoppers are expected to increase significantly in the coming years. The online shopping environment allows a wide range of products and provides convenience to online consumers. However, this led to a significant increase in product returns among different retail sectors, including the clothing and home electronic sectors. The high products return folds into many disadvantages to the environment, society, and economics, such as higher CO2 emissions because of the increased number of shipping trips when products are returned. The increase in the number of packages and loss of product values when a consumer returns a product also significantly impacts sustainability. The high competition in the online shopping market drive marketers to provide different services such as free and fast delivery and flexible returns policies to maintain competitive advantages and thus encourage consumers to buy their products. Moreover, the legal structure protects consumers right to return the products, which hinders marketers from strict their return policies to reduce product returns. However, reducing the high returns is still in the interest of online retailers as high returns encounter higher operating costs such as repackaging and the deprecation value of the products. Many studies have explored the importance of reducing high product returns in online shopping and mentioned the different disadvantages for companies, the environment, and society. Other studies have investigated the reasons behind the high product returns within the online shopping environment. In contrast, fewer studies have addressed solutions to overcome the problems of high product returns. Because online consumers make their purchase decisions without physical interaction with the brand or its products, online consumers need more help to ensure that their purchase decisions can fulfil their desires and needs. The author of this paper suggests that marketers can help consumers make better purchase decisions since reducing product returns fall in the company's interest. Marketers are essential actors in targeting consumers to buy products. Marketers can help to create a better fit between the consumers and the products they purchase online and thus make a better purchase decision and avoid returning the products. Therefore, this paper explores how marketers can help consumers to make better purchase decisions and thus avoid product returns. Moreover, the study investigates how digital marketing tools can help marketers reach targeted consumers and help consumers to make better purchase decisions. The paper follows a case-study research design. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews with defined individuals who have worked in eCommerce and digital marketing. The paper adapts in-depth narrative analysis to interpret marketers' practices during the consumer's decision journey to help them make better purchase decisions. In conclusion, the findings show that marketers can play an essential role in helping online consumers make better purchase decisions and thus avoid returning products. To avoid products, return marketers have to target consumers who are in need or interested in their products and convey detailed and truthful information about the brand and products. Digital marketing enabled marketers to reach their targeted consumers and optimise communications with them like never been, which in turn helps consumers to make better purchase decisions and thus avoid products return.
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