Product Recalls: Addressing Customer Fear


There have been so many high profile product recalls lately—cribs, children’s toys, even cars. Customers are afraid (rightfully so) that any product that they buy may turn out to be dangerous for them and their children. If you are selling products that are involved in occasional recalls, you need to address this aspect of safety. The way that your ecommerce website deals with these issues will have a huge effect on whether and how much your customers trust your business.

Addressing the Problem

Ignoring the issue of consumer trust will not make it go away. You need to have a policy for dealing with recalled merchandise that is addressed on your website and linked to in prominent areas. Assure customers that you only sell merchandise that is approved by the appropriate agencies and that you participate actively in product recalls. In addition, link to information on Consumer Product Safety Commission product recalls for related items, even if you have never sold them. Make it clear that you are part of the movement to make your consumers’ lives safer and more secure.

Give Details

Your consumers will have questions about how recalls are handled. For example, do you or the product manufacturer provide return shipping? How is the refund handled? This is usually handled through the manufacturer, but your customers need to know who they turn to in the case of a recall.

Offer Ongoing Communication

If you are selling a product category in which recalls are common—children’s toys, for example—then you may want to make a dedicated email list for updates on recalled toys. Resist the temptation to add this to your regular email marketing list. You can also offer product recall information on your blog (a great SEO trick, by the way, which we will address in the next paragraph) and encourage concerned consumers to subscribe to it. Whatever method is best for your ecommerce website, you need to ensure that an open line of communication is established and maintained. 

Don’t Forget SEO

What does a consumer do when they first hear about a product recall? For many customers, the first step in finding information will be a Google search. For this reason, you should ensure that your posts on the matter are optimized for related keywords. Not only will this make it easy for your customers to find important information and develop a trusting relationship with your ecommerce website, it will bring new traffic.

Similarly, you should optimize recall information for site search. Some people won’t see your links even if they are neon green and take up half the landing page. They go immediately to the internal search. Make it easy for these people to find the safety information that they need.

Maintain a Product Page

Many ecommerce websites simply remove the product from their feed when it is recalled. However, I think it is best to maintain a product page that includes an explanation of why it has been recalled and how to return it. This will keep consumers from unknowingly buying the product from a less scrupulous retailer while reinforcing the fact that you care about your customers and your product integrity.