Simple Ways to Dramatically Reduce Ecommerce Products Returns

Written by
Isabel Edwards

At least 30% of all products ordered online are returned, but is there a way to combat this? Returns are costly, so it’s worth implementing some strategies which could drastically reduce how many of your customers are sending items back.

Don’t be a catfish with product photos

64.2% of customers claim the reason for their return was because they felt the product didn’t live up to how it was presented online. 

So providing super flattering (to the point of unrealistic) photos of your products may seem profitable in the short term, as you’ll sell more products, but it will be detrimental to your business in the long run.

That doesn’t mean you can’t take appealing photos of your products that show them in their best light. Just make sure it’s accurate and don’t purposely hide a certain aspect of the product which could be deceiving for customers.

Provide information in product descriptions that images don’t show

75% of online shoppers rely on product photos when deciding on a potential purchase, but there are lots of things consumers need to know that your photos can’t provide.

Use your product descriptions to provide as much information about the item as you can. Material, size guides, care instructions, brand information, item specifications and a detailed description of the item for those with visual impairments who may not be able to view the photos.

Knowing more information about the product will manage customer expectations and reduce the likelihood of returning it.

Use video to give customers an even more realistic viewing experience

73% more visitors who watch product videos will make a purchase. Videos give users a deeper understanding of the product that photos can’t quite convey.

They can show how the product moves, how it can be interacted with and what the item looks like in different lighting.

Using video is one step closer to providing a real-life experience for potential customers.

Collect customer reviews and feedback

84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends. Shoppers want to get other people’s perspective on a product to better understand if it would be a good purchase for themselves.

Reviews provide a wider variety of insights into your product which you can’t provide yourself. For example, a reviewer might write about how the sizing runs a little small, so buyers should select the next size up.

Information like this is invaluable for potential customers and will help reduce your return rates.

Ensure delivery information is easily accessible

More than ever consumers expect free and fast shipping. Next day delivery is a given and anything longer than that has become out of the ordinary.

If your shipping will take longer than that for certain items, you need to make this extremely clear on your website. If a customer really wants an item, they will wait for longer delivery and their expectations are managed.

Whereas if an item is unexpectedly taking a long time, they’re likely to find the item from somewhere else in the meantime and return your item as soon as it arrives.

Ask for reasons when products are returned

Many ecommerce businesses provide an area on the return slip where you can select the reason for returning the item. This is extremely valuable for you as a business as it allows you to adapt and do something about recurring reasons.

For example, if most of your returns for a certain item are due to poor quality, it may be worth removing the item from your website.

Provide multiple customer service channels

Providing just one way for users to get in touch with your business (e.g email) is not a great customer experience. Allowing more communication between you and your customers pre-purchase is another way to give them a better understanding of your products and gives them the correct expectations.

Installing a live chat on your website is a helpful way to provide instant feedback to users, or you could provide a link to Facebook’s instant messenger.

Increase your product return policy

Whilst this might seem counterintuitive to reducing your product returns, lengthening the amount of time customers have to return a product removes the sense of urgency. The longer they have the product, the more attached they feel towards it and more likely they are to change their mind about returning it or simply forgetting to return it.

Include user-generated content on your product pages

Providing content that shows other customers using the product in their own home shows your items in a much more realistic light. When users have a realistic idea of your product, they’ll know exactly what to expect and won’t be shocked or disappointed when the product arrives. do this really well and encourage users to post pictures of the items on Instagram to be featured on their website.

Ask friends/ family what information is missing from the page that could cause a return

If you’re really not sure whether you’re providing all the right information, ask someone who’s never seen or used your products before.

You’ll get a fresh perspective as to whether you are providing the information that shoppers actually need. They’ll also be able to spot if something is missing which could lead to returns if customers are assuming product details if you’re not providing it.

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