Every retailer knows that customer returns are inevitable, but those in the eCommerce sector have even more to contend with and savvy business owners are always looking for ways to reduce eCommerce returns.

Research shows that around 20% of online purchases are returned, compared with just 9% of items bought in a brick-and-mortar store. Between additional costs for labour, shipping and restocking, a high rate of returns can be costly and inconvenient for your business.

While it’s impossible to eliminate returns, there are steps you can take to provide a better shopping experience for your customers and reduce the likelihood of them returning an item, and in this article, we explore 8 tactics to reduce eCommerce returns in 2022.

Why do people return items?

In order to reduce your rate of returns, you need to understand what causes customers to send items back in the first place.

Some of the most common reasons include:

  • The customer changed their mind
  • The item didn’t fit or wasn’t suitable for its intended purpose
  • The item was not as described, or it looks different in person
  • The item arrived broken or damaged

In addition, some people use online shopping as a kind of virtual changing room, ordering multiple items with the express intention of trying them on and returning whatever doesn’t suit them.

When it comes to returns, some factors are outside of your control. However, research shows that 67% of all returned online purchases are actually the fault of the retailer, and have nothing to do with the customer. This means that, in many instances, returns are preventable.

So, how can you successfully reduce your eCommerce returns?

Let’s take a look at some tactics you can implement to make a difference in this area.

8 Ways to Reduce eCommerce Returns

1. Optimise product visuals

In a physical store, people would have the opportunity to touch and/or try on the items, which helps them to make a decision.

You can’t provide the same experience through a screen, but you can give shoppers a feel for the product by including multiple high-resolution images and videos, taken from several different angles.

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2. Including detailed product descriptions helps to reduce eCommerce returns

Great photos and videos aren’t going to sell your products on their own, so make sure you also include clear, well-written product descriptions. According to Narvar’s latest State of Returns report, 88% of consumers rely on the accuracy of product details and reviews to inform their decisions.

Write a vivid, compelling description of each product and be sure to include the sizing, dimensions, and other technical specifications. You should give people as much information as possible about the product and make it easy to scan using bullet points.

When consumers understand exactly what they’re purchasing, they are less likely to be disappointed when it arrives.

3. Ensure your sizing chart is accurate

If you are selling shoes or items of clothing, then you must include an accurate, easy-to-understand sizing chart. Without being able to try things on in person, shoppers rely on the measurements you provide to help them choose the right size.

If your sizing chart is inaccurate or unclear, then it’s much more likely that customers will receive something that doesn’t fit. This will cause them to return it and possibly not risk buying from your store again.

4. Have a generous returns policy

Although it may seem counter-productive, offering things like free returns and no-quibble guarantees is a smart way to instil trust in your brand. People are more likely to make a purchase if they feel confident that returning it will be easy and stress-free.

In fact, research shows that 80% of customers are loyal to eCommerce retailers that have free and easy return policies, whereas 82% of consumers will not shop again at an online store if the returns process was difficult.

5. Check orders for accuracy

If someone receives something other than exactly what they ordered, they are going to want to return it. You can reduce the chances of this happening by being thorough and ensuring that each and every order is checked for accuracy before it leaves the warehouse.

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6. Use a managed returns process

Paper return slips are a standard inclusion in most online orders, but they can be a pain for you and your customers. Implementing a digital returns solution will make it easier for you to plan and manage returns, giving you a virtual roadmap of every stage of the process.

A digital returns portal enables people to manage returns themselves, which is good for your business since customers will feel more comfortable shopping again at an online store that has an easy returns process.

7. Streamline your restock and resell process

If someone is going to return an item, it’s better for your business if this is done as quickly as possible. The quicker the product is returned to you, the more efficiently you can process it, restock it, and resell it.

A great way to do this is to check in with shoppers after the product has arrived, either via a digital returns portal or a simple follow-up email. An example of such correspondence might be “Hi, there! We hope you’re happy with your new [product name] but if you’ve changed your mind, returning it is as easy as X, Y, Z”.

Once the consumer has initiated the returns process, you can send gentle reminders to drop off the package as soon as possible.

8. Leverage customer feedback

Including user-generated content such as reviews and Q&As is a great way to reduce the likelihood of a customer returning an item. The more information a shopper has access to, the less likely it is that they’ll be disappointed when the item arrives.

Also, listening to your customers gives you an insight into what they want and where you may be falling short of their expectations.

How to reduce eCommerce returns

At ParcelPlanet, we offer expert support at every stage of the customer journey, from order fulfilment to returns management.

We handle your returns quickly and efficiently, delivering an exceptional customer experience, increasing customer loyalty, and providing you with better insights on why the order was returned.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you reduce your eCommerce returns in 2022 and beyond.