Product returns are considered as the greatest plague in the eCommerce industry. And the worst part is, there is no way to completely eliminate eCommerce product returns.
They often force store owners to process additional packages and initiate refunds for the sole purpose of keeping the overall customer experience positive so they don’t run off to competitors.
If you’ve been a victim of high eCommerce product returns, you’ve arrived at the right place. In this post, we’re going to reveal 7 ways to decrease product returns in your eCommerce store.
But first, some basics.
What is a Product Return in eCommerce?
Product return is a process where customers return the purchased products back to the e-store. In return, they seek refund, product replacement, or store credits.
The product return rate is an important metric in the eCommerce industry. It generally refers to the frequency of order returns for online stores. A high product return rate can directly affect brand reputation, customer satisfaction, and overall business revenue.
That said, let’s quickly go over how product returns are negatively impacting the entire eCommerce industry.
Impact of Product Returns on the eCommerce Industry
The influx of product returns is growing every passing day. As a result, it is putting a lot of stress on the shoulders of eCommerce store owners.
57% of eCommerce store owners have already admitted in a survey that dealing with high product returns had a negative impact on their daily operations.
And the worst part?
30% of online shoppers intentionally order extra products than they need with the sole intent to become eligible for free shipping. And once they receive their order, they simply return the excess items.
This practice has germinated a genuine problem for eCommerce store owners.
However, free shipping is not the only reason behind high eCommerce product returns.
According to a study, over 60% of the product returns occur due to eCommerce retailers’ fault.
- 23% of overall product returns occur because customers actually received the wrong item.
- 22% because the product did not live up to the expectations as portrayed on the website.
- 20% because the received item was either damaged or didn’t work.
To combat this, eCommerce store owners are responding in a number of ways, including offering real-time support via live chat, third-party eCommerce order fulfillment, optimizing product visuals, and so on.
However, you need a more strategic approach to cut down your product returns. Let’s take a look.
How to Decrease Product Returns in eCommerce?
Now that we’ve learned the most common reasons behind high eCommerce product returns, let’s examine a few concrete ways to lower the number of product returns in your eCommerce store.
1 - Implement an Easy, Fast, and Free Return Policy
Promising your customers an easy, fast, and free return process upfront can do wonders for your eCommerce store.
First, it will empower your customers to purchase products from your store more frequently with the confidence that if for any reason they have to return it, they can send it back worry-free.
In fact, 80% of customers will become and remain loyal to eCommerce brands with a liberal return policy.
Conversely, a restricted return policy will definitely drive the potential customers away. As per a survey report, 69% of consumers avoid purchasing from eCommerce brands that don’t offer free returns. And 33% will abandon their shopping carts if they can’t find the company’s return policy in the store.
The bottom line is: implementing a generous return policy is vitally important if you’re serious about decreasing product returns in your eCommerce store.
2 - Encourage Exchanges Instead of Returns
Another way to decrease the product returns is by giving your customers the option to exchange their purchased products.
A 2018 survey revealed that given a choice, 57% of shoppers would rather exchange products instead of returning them.
Furthermore, the same report also found that only 16% of customers are likely to go to the competitors for purchasing the same product.
So, by offering the option to exchange products, you can retain the revenue, keep customers happy, and solidify their confidence for future purchases.
If you’re planning to implement an exchange policy, we highly recommend making the exchange process equally fast, easy, and free just like your return policy.
3 - Provide Impeccable Shipping Experience
Once an order leaves your warehouse, it’s basically out of your hands. But if that same order arrives damaged on your customer’s doorstep, it instantly hurts your reputation and results in a product return.
In fact, just a single instance of a damaged shipment can send customers to your competitors.
Therefore, it is extremely important to research your options carefully when it comes to the shipping aspect of your eCommerce business. And if you sell your products internationally, it’s even more crucial to invest in an air freight service that’s reliable, affordable, and assures safe delivery of all orders.
4 - Represent Products Accurately
One of the most common causes of product returns in the eCommerce space is the dreaded ‘delivered product was not as presented/described in the store’.
The root of this problem lies in the quality of product images and its description. Because your customers can’t touch or feel your products, it’s crucial that you represent your products as accurately as possible, both visually and in writing.
High-quality visuals are incredibly important for representing products accurately in your eCommerce store. A good rule of thumb is to include at least six to eight images of each product that you sell on your eCommerce site.
Although sometimes not even Amazon lives up to this standard for every product listed on its marketplace, online shoppers do expect an average of six to eight images of products nowadays as per the emarketer’s survey report.
And if you think about it, expecting to see up to eight images of a product actually makes sense.
After all, how else can one determine if they’ll actually like the product or not when they receive it if they don’t know what it looks like from every angle in the first place.
5 - Write Detail-Rich Product Descriptions
Product visuals are only half of the battle. Product descriptions play an equally significant role in representing products as accurately as possible.
Just like visuals, product descriptions help potential customers to know what exactly they’re ordering.
If you’re not sure how to write accurate product descriptions, we strongly advocate using the following template structure to optimize your product descriptions:
- Write a compelling description headline that will hook your audience.
- Write a paragraph that talks about what makes the product unique. Focus your content on how your product solves a particular problem.
- Create a list of product features and specifications such as height, weight, dimensions, etc.
- Lastly, conclude your product descriptions with urgency, credibility, and social proof.
- In the end, create a call-to-action to motivate the potential customers to make the purchase.
6 - Provide Precise Sizing Information
A further reason behind high eCommerce product returns, especially in the apparel eCommerce space is the poor fit of the purchased products.
Since customers cannot try on the apparel before purchasing, it is critically important to provide accurate sizing information for every product.
To eliminate product returns due to poor fit, avoid using the default sizing chart for all your products. Because each brand has different sizing, it’s best to provide sizing information for every specific brand individually.
Furthermore, if you sell your products internationally, make sure to provide a sizing and dimension conversion chart that could be dynamically adjusted to the customers’ countries.
And if you want to take this to the next level, you can even consider creating a custom tool that lets your customers input height, weight, body type, and personal fit preferences to get an accurate estimate of their perfect size for a particular product.
7 - Nail Your Post-Purchase Emails
Believe it or not but sending emails immediately after customers place their orders can decrease the chances of product returns to some extent.
You see, post-purchase emails are a perfect opportunity between order and delivery to educate the customers about the purchased products, clear any doubts they may have that could lead to product returns, and keep the excitement spark alive during the delivery waiting period.
Here are some basic ideas to get you started:
- Educate customers on different ways they can use the purchased product.
- Create content that clarifies common doubts on the potential problematic products and send it to the customer.
- Mention a line about your easy exchange policy to retain revenue just in case they decide to send it back.
And once the customer has your product in hand, send an email after a while to ask them to share their feedback.
eCommerce product returns are inevitable but also manageable. Though you certainly can’t do anything about genuine problems in a product. But if there’s anything you can do to avoid product returns from your end, go ahead and do it.
Decreasing your overall product returns rate even slightly can save you a lot of operational costs. That said, putting the above tips into practice will definitely help to decrease product returns in your eCommerce store.