How to reduce returns

Returns are a pain. Besides the loss of profits, you also spend money on delivery, and there is a chance that due to the condition of returned product you won’t be able to sell it.

According to RLA report return rate for e-commerce is 25-40%, for brick-and-mortar stores return rate is only 8%. Rates, of course, vary depending on the product categories (clothes usually have a higher return rate) and also on the season (more returns during holidays). But even 25% sounds frightening, that’s a quarter of all sales made.

In this blog post we’ll take a look at practices that can help you minimize the number of product returns:

Clear and detailed product descriptions
First off provide explicit descriptions. Describe your products so well that your customers can practically feel them through the screen. Provide as many details as possible, be clear about the fit, the size, the material, and other properties. The kind of information you need to add to description will, of course, depend on the products you sell. For example, if you’re selling clothes  – provide size charts, if it’s consumer electronics – add instructions.

Quality photos, and lots of them
Take good photos of high quality, offer customers the ability to zoom on the pictures. Experiment with light and angles. Make sure that your photos aren’t overly edited or inaccurately represent your product. Keep in mind, that one of the most common reasons for returns – the difference between the product and photos provided by the merchant.

Be accessible
Make it super easy for your customers to get in touch with you and ask you about the products. It will help with any issues and queries shoppers might have and reduce the number of returns.

Create a FAQ
Consider writing the answers to frequently asked questions applicable to all (or most of) your product range. It could be a page in your online store so you can add a link to it in your product descriptions on marketplaces.

Customer reviews
They are extremely valuable for online shoppers and may give answers to questions that aren’t covered in the product descriptions. Make sure to make customer reviews visible on your website and keep track of reviews on marketplaces.

Check before sending
If you send a damaged product or a product of wrong color or size – you’re guaranteed to get an unhappy customer and a return. Decrease the number returns due to internal mistakes by the proper organization of storage and by checking the orders before sending them.

Proper package
Pay heed to the packaging the product, especially if it’s a fragile one. The package should protect it from any damage, and also look good to make an impression on the customer, so they’ll like their new purchase even before opening it.

Reliable delivery service
Carefully choose a delivery service to minimize any issues with damaged products or late deliveries.

Clear return policy
Your return policy should be easy to understand, convenient and flexible. According to ReadyCloud research, 92% of customers will purchase something again if the return was easy.

Understand returns and correct your mistakes
Analyse the returns you receive and the reasons for them. Perhaps provided photos and descriptions for certain products seem misleading to your clients, and you need to edit those. Or the reason is in the product quality, and you should stop selling it altogether.

According to ReturnLogic, 65% of returns made are merchants’ fault, the main reasons are inaccurate descriptions and photos, wrong product (or size or product variation) sent, damaged items.

This data shows that a liberal return policy won’t hurt a business, but inaccurate or lacking in detail product information and internal mistakes will.