Since customers can’t try items on or see them in person, return rates for eCommerce stores are naturally higher than they are at physical, brick-and-mortar establishments. According to Invesp, eCommerce stores can have return rates upwards of 30%, compared to just 8.89% for brick-and-mortar stores.
Want to reduce returns to your online store? Here are 4 tips that will help you achieve this goal and run a more efficient business.
1. Reduce “Seller-at-Fault” Returns As Much As Possible
This should go without saying, but always make sure that your customers are sent the correct items.
Although this may seem obvious, studies have estimated that up to 65% of all returns are technically the fault of the eCommerce retailer. In a Forrester study for UPS, it was found that:
23% of all returns are due to the wrong items being shipped to customers
22% of returns are because of a difference in product appearance
20% of returns are due to damaged items being received by customers.
Double (and triple) check items before you send them off, make sure you have comprehensive photos, and ship items in well-protected, appropriate packaging.
2. Create Great, Comprehensive Product Descriptions
This goes hand-in-hand with point #1.
If a customer is ever misled – whether purposely or accidentally – about a product they’re buying, they’re probably going to return it (and they’re less likely to shop from your store again).
Because of this, you need to have very clear, comprehensive product descriptions. Make sure to:
List the materials each item is made of
List proper sizes and provide size charts
Cover every detail about an item that a customer may want to know about – before they end up making a purchase
This article from Kissmetrics is very helpful for helping you understand how to write better product descriptions.
3. Have a Clear Return Policy – But Know When to Bend the Rules
The longer your return policy is, the more likely customers are to change their mind and end up returning items.
The same goes if you have a no clear return policy at all – customers will simply assume you’ll take their items back, because you have no details about returns listed on your website. You need to have a very clear return policy that outlines your (and your customer’s) responsibilities for returns.
- Have a clear return window. 14-30 days is a reasonable choice.
- Make it easy for customers to print proper labels and ship packages to your returns department. 92% of customers said they would buy again if the return process is easy. Use a platform like eShipper to generate return shipping labels for you to make it even simpler for your customer.
- Make sure that your policy is airtight, and you’ll see returns start to drop. At the same time, keep in mind that it’s sometimes okay to bend the rules. If a long-time customer gets the wrong item and forgets to return it, for example, it’s probably worth letting them return it late – rather than potentially losing them as a loyal customer.
4. Go the Extra Mile - Make Customer Returns Free
79% of consumers want free return shipping. Think about it - when a customer shops from a brick and mortar store, they don't have to pay to return their purchase, so it's not too far fetched to demand the same from an online store.
We all know that free shipping is not really free, but there are ways to make it work in your favour and actually increase profits. We've written a blog post all about it. We've also created a simple returns process to help you offer your customers free returns to ultimately boost sales.
Whether you’re a small drop-shipping business, or a large online eCommerce retailer, these quick tips are sure to help you reduce return rates, stay profitable, and gain more customers. Get in touch with us to make your returns experience a profitable one.