Emily | 7 Jul 2021
For e-commerce businesses, returns can be a real headache. Not only do you have to deal with the disappointment of customers not loving your product, but it also eats into your profit margin and means you have to spend more business hours processing and issuing refunds, and trying to maintain a good level of customer service. Whilst returns are inevitable, there are steps you can take to reduce them.
Have Accurate Product Titles & Descriptions
It may sound obvious but, when a customer is making a purchase online, they can’t see the product ‘in the flesh’, they only know what you’ve told them about it. So, it’s hugely important to make sure your product titles and especially your product descriptions are full of all the information you think a customer might need. From the description of the product itself to the available options, the more information you put here, the more informed your customers will be, and the less likely they are to return something when they open it up and find it’s smaller than they thought or it’s the wrong colour.
The more they know about what they’re buying, the less likely they are to return it. However, it is worth remembering that you can provide all the information there is to know about the product and buying process, but you can’t make them read it. Too much information can make people skim past the important bits. Trial and error may be needed to get a balance.
Invest in Good Product Photography
Along with product descriptions, the photos you have of your products are the only information a customer has about them. So having high quality, accurate photos of all of your products is a great way of letting your customers know what to expect when they order from you.
Make it clear which are compatible products
Giving links to related products can help customers find things that go well together. This can be as simple as suggesting products which are a perfect colour match. You could go as far as adding an entire tool on your website to ensure that the correct compatible product is found. Small prompts and a few extra checks can make sure your customers know that what they are buying will be compatible.
Include Size Charts and Guides and other measurement info
This is especially important for clothing brands. A customer can’t try on a shirt though the internet, the only way they’ll know if it fits is to order it. But, if you include a size guide for all of your clothing, your customers will have a way of working out if they’re a 6 or an 8 and you won’t have to deal with as many returned items.
Along with showing how clothes will fit, you can also give customers the chance to rate if the fit is ‘as expected’ or ‘comes small’. Customer reviews in general can help with buying decisions.
It isn’t just clothing where sizing is important. In fact, pretty much every product you buy off the internet benefits from having dimensions or weight listed with it.
Manage expectations about delivery times
Sometimes products can be returned because the customer wanted them for a specific day and they didn’t arrive in time. Make sure they know what the delivery timeframe is and if it’s an estimated date or guaranteed. This is your chance to upsell to a faster delivery service if they need it quickly.
Pack Your Products Carefully
You can have the most careful courier service in the world, but sometimes accidents happen. Items arriving damaged is not only a disappointment for the customer but also mean extra costs for you, even if your parcel was insured. Taking the time to work out a packing process that is efficient and keeps the contents safe can be a great way to prevent damage returns and can also make your business look more professional!
Undeliverable items are also returned
Parcels can get returned-to-sender because they couldn’t be delivered. It’s worth making sure your customers know if it won’t fit through a letterbox or requires somebody present to sign for it. For bulky items, make it clear if the delivery company will carry it up the stairs for you or not.
You need to gather accurate addresses from customers to avoid undeliverable parcels being returned-to-sender. Consider using an address lookup service to verify the addresses you are collecting.
At the end of the day, returns are unavoidable so don’t get disheartened by them. Sometimes people just change their mind. Use it as an opportunity to interest them in something else instead. Suggest alternative products as they go through the returns process.