Sunday, June 17, 2012

Avoid Recommending If Strict Return Policies

Do you find it necessary to maintain strict return policies in your store? If so, research findings from Purdue University and Cornell University indicate that you should keep from offering unsolicited advice to shoppers about what to buy.
     All this might be seen as evidence that two wrongs do make a right. Retailers are usually advised to give personalized recommendations to shoppers and to maintain lenient return policies.
     The advice does still hold, generally. And the Purdue/Cornell researchers did find that giving recommendations to shoppers goes well with lenient return policies whenever what the customer gets turns out to be less than perfect. The result is more positive evaluations of products after purchase compared to what happens with the combination of strict return policies and ample retailer recommendations.
     The reasons for these outcomes have to do with what consumer psychologists call “locus of control” and “counterfactuals.” Locus of control refers to the party in the transaction the consumer holds responsible when usage of a purchased product shows it to have some negative attributes along with the positive ones. The consumer might say, “The salesperson’s at fault for not sufficiently pointing out the negatives when making the recommendation,” or might say, “I’m responsible for what I purchased because I had the opportunity to find out more before spending my money.”
     Counterfactuals are “what if” statements consumers say to themselves: “What if I’d asked more questions?” and “What if I’d shopped around more?” are examples of “upward counterfactuals.” They help the shopper feel better by giving ways to improve future shopping. Examples of downward counterfactuals include, “What if I’d been unfortunate enough to get a product with even more shortcomings?” and “What if I hadn’t discovered these problems with the product until it caused some real harm?” Downward counterfactuals improve the consumer’s outlook by leading to them deciding they escaped a worse situation than the one they have.
     When a retailer abstains from making recommendations to the consumer, the locus of control moves away from the retailer toward the consumer. Then if post-purchase problems arise with an item and there is a strict return policy, the consumer starts creating more downward counterfactuals than if there’d been a lenient return policy. The consumer holds himself responsible and says, “Well, at least it wasn’t worse.”
     If, in your community, you need to be closed-minded about accepting returns, also be close-mouthed about giving advice.

Click below for more:
Simplify the Shopping 
Sell More by Being Less Certain

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