1) The Allure Of Purchasing Cosmetics Online
Cosmetics are one of the easiest product categories to purchase online. Customers also prefer to buy them through eCommerce stores rather than brick-and-mortar outlets. But why?
Multi-branded physical retail stores are packed with competition. Customers may feel pressured to buy products they do not want. Salespeople, working on commissions, often conspicuously market products. They may urge the shopper to check out the competitor’s cost-effective or superior alternatives.
Physical outlets are often crowded and confusing. There could possibly also be disparities between what the customer wants and what the sales staff intends to sell. So it is no wonder customers flock to the internet to buy lip tints and concealers.
Here are a few reasons why more customers choose to buy their cosmetics from online stores.
1.1) Know What They Want
There may be way too many alternatives in a physical store for someone who knows what they want. Customers are tired of being pressured into trying out another brand. Or listening to marketing spiels. Why go through the rigmarole of walking through the cosmetics aisle when they can purchase their favorites online?
Online stores are plump with offers. There are several discounts usually underway. Shoppers can often find items tagged for clearance or end-of-season sale under the sale button. Offers like free delivery and free returns make it easier for customers. Added to this, many eCommerce stores also offer coupons on purchases.
1.3) Sampler Packs
Shoppers love to buy samplers to test products over a length of time before purchasing. This differs from the almost instantaneous decision they would have to make in a physical store based on a trial. Products like foundation, eye shadow, lipsticks, and perfumes come in sampler sizes. Customers often return to make a full-size purchase of their preferred color or kind.
Cosmetics brands often offer fun combos of cosmetic and skin care products. And they are more visibly displayed online compared to a brick-and-mortar’s offerings. They are perfect for gifting and holiday getaways. And it makes sense that shoppers prefer to purchase them online.
1.5) Limited Edition Releases
Collaborations with other creatives yield limited edition releases. Loyal customers are quick to snap up these collectibles. Since these are quick to sell out, time is of the essence. With long queues at retail outlets, it makes sense to purchase them online. With an alarm set for the drop, shoppers can laze on their couch and hit buy now.
2) Why Are Cosmetics Purchased Online Returned?
It definitely makes sense that more customers choose to purchase their cosmetics online. But why the returns?
2.1) Poor Quality
Poor quality can be a result of either manufacturing or storage issues. Products that are split, oozing, or cracked can be returned. These returns are rare as they are uncommon in premium cosmetics brands.
2.2) Close To Expiry
Improper inventory management can lead a store to sell products close to expiry. The motives for selling them can be hidden under deals and discounts. And discounted products are often not returnable.
2.3) Wrong Shade
Sometimes, customers perceive the wrong color on their computer or mobile screen. At other times, they may receive the wrong color. The returns of either depend on the store’s policy.
Online marketplaces for cosmetics often sell products with huge price slashing. Customers often forget the adage - if it’s too good to be true. They could end up requesting returns for counterfeit products.
2.5) Impulse Purchase
Shoppers also love to shock themselves with impulse purchases. Taking a chance on cosmetic products sends their adrenaline rushing. Sometimes, their risk pays off. At other times, they will take advantage of free returns.
3) What happens When Cosmetic Products Purchased Online are Returned?
The world is trying to course correct its dependence on the use of plastic. There is much talk of sustainability to repair the damage that has been done to the environment. However, this sentiment is not evident in the number of beauty products that get returned.
FDA does not allow stores to donate or resell products with broken seals. Cosmetics brands have to dispose of any product that has been opened. This is regardless of whether they have been used or not, in order to prevent the risk of infection.
An employee of Ulta made a Tiktok video to bring visibility to what happens with cosmetics returns. She recorded herself wrecking cosmetics - scraping out eyeshadows and breaking lipsticks. In order to prevent dumpster diving, more on that in a bit, returns are destroyed.
She estimated that over 40 percent of customers walked in with returns. Out of this, only about 30% make it back to the shelves. The rest are considered damaged and are processed as mentioned above.
Dumpster divers are those that pay attention to the trash bins behind beauty stores. They pick through them to collect lightly used and new products that can be resold. With original packaging and reduced pricing, it is fairly easy to find customers.
Many cosmetics brands partner with TerraCycle. By emptying out the products and recycling packaging, they help cut down on waste. Some also distribute unopened and unused products to their employees.
Every product that is opened and returned is trashed. Cosmetics harvested from dumpsters are a health hazard. Every return affects the manufacturer and vendor. This prevents them from having the monetary capability to improve their offerings to the customer.
4) Measures To Curb eCommerce Returns In The Cosmetics Industry
4.1) Return Policy
eCommerce stores have lenient return policies. The failure to offer easy returns will have a customer looking elsewhere for shopping. However, it is good practice to accept only damaged or defective products. This reduces the financial burden on the manufacturer and vendor.
4.2) Accurate Descriptions
No hype and no overpromising. Accurate descriptions will enable customers to make a learned purchase. This will lead to lower return rates. When you promise 24 hours long stay or bleed proof, the product has to function as stated.
4.3) How-To Videos
Customers who don’t understand the product will feel frustrated and request returns. Ensure to add videos that demonstrate the usage and function of the product. Especially if it is innovative or novel in terms of application. This will help your customer understand how and when to use it.
4.4) Detailed Close-up Shots
Most beauty products can be granulated or glittery, matte or glossy. Adding zoomed-in shots will allow customers to understand how coarse or fine the texture is. Most shoppers are picky about how a product feels on their faces. These images will help them figure out their best option.
4.5) All Testimonials
Positive and negative feedback will help customers gain an understanding of who the product is best suited for. For example, a product may have negative reviews from someone who has oily skin. They may have left a positive review under a product that is a better match for their skin type.
4.6) Trial Before Purchase
It is recommended that any cosmetics product dependent on its color is swatched at a physical store. By doing this, customers don’t take a chance on what they view on their screen. Since lipsticks and foundations differ by minuscule variants in shades, they offer higher returns.
4.7) Evaluate Why Returns Are Happening
Always reach out to a customer and understand why certain products are returned more. By doing this, you will be able to correct the way you present it. Vendors can also take this data into consideration while designing their products.
4.8) Educate Consumer
Customers must be educated on what happens to the products they return. It is a good marketing tool to convey the message that products are not resold. At the same time, it may encourage a customer to offload a product by other means as opposed to returning it.
5) How Can ClickPost Solve The Product Returns Problem Faced By The Cosmetics Industry?
ClickPost helps brands like Nykaa, Lakme, Kiehls, Minimalist, The Body Shop, Sugar Cosmetics and more manage their ecommerce returns. ClickPost identifies and targets problem points by industry type and allows you to customize the process to better suit your brand.
Its AI returns management engine allows you to assign weightages to various aspects of picking a shipping partner for returns. Such as RTO rates, speed of delivery, pricing etc. ClickPost will then use the parameters assigned by you to engage in automated picking and assigning.
Just like WISMO or Where Is My Order calls, Where Is My Refund calls are fairly common in the cosmetics industry. ClickPost helps you cut down on these customer- initiated calls. It achieves this by allowing your brand to shoot out personalised tracking updates to customers.
Sending key milestone notifications to shoppers helps improve brand connect and trust. ClickPost also allows you to send out proactive messages in case of delays in processing their returns. It is best practice to keep a customer informed regarding their returns and refund status.
You can use this software to send out automated issue-specific queries to customers to resolve non-pick-up reports. You can also use this data to program better pick-up partners for future orders. This way, you can ensure your returns are processed with accuracy and speed.
ClickPost also comes with many useful bonus features. It gives you visibility on all your returns executed by various shipping partners on a single dashboard. Adding product recommendations to your tracking page enables you drive additional sales through cross-selling.
While offering free returns may feel crucial to achieve customer satisfaction, the onus of disposal will lie with you. Instead, you could follow the industry’s best practices.
Some brands have begun to offer refunds or exchanges while allowing the customer to dispose of the product as they wish. And others, accept returns only if the product is faulty or damaged.
As returns cannot be resold and only destroyed, it makes little sense to pay for return shipping. But, if you feel recycling your returns packaging is worthwhile, you can partner with companies like TerraCycle and ClickPost to help you achieve this.
1) What happens to makeup that is returned?
Based on the store’s return policy, they may accept your returns. But returned cosmetic products are not resold. They are destroyed as they pose a health hazard.
2) Can an eCommerce store ban you from making returns?
Many brands have their eyes on fraudulent or excessive returns practices. As a result of this they may blocklist customers who take advantage of their returns policies.