According to a Barclays report, 60% of retailers are negatively impacted by returns.
This shows how frustrating the returns can be.
But, they are simply an unavoidable aspect of doing business online, and every business needs the right strategy for addressing them.
Returns require time and resources spent processing unexpectedly returned packages and authorizing refunds.
And, most importantly, it’s about attempting to make the return process as smooth as possible for clients so that they don’t rush off to one of your rivals.
Luckily, many of the difficulties that drive customers to return products are avoidable.
So, if you’re wondering how do small businesses deal with returns, you’re in the right place. We’ll delve into practical strategies small businesses can implement to handle returns efficiently, minimizing both financial impact and customer inconvenience.
Why Reducing Returns Is Vital for Ecommerce Stores
In the realm of e-commerce, the frequency with which customers return items is more than just a logistical concern.
It directly affects the financial health and reputation of any online store.
Prioritizing the reduction of ecommerce returns is crucial for decreasing operational and shipping expenses, as well as enhancing the overall customer experience.
A streamlined returns process post purchase indicates the quality of products and fortifies customer trust.
This approach is pivotal for any online store aiming to cultivate the loyalty of customers and carve out a sustainable niche in the competitive digital retail landscape.
Proven Strategies That Will Help You Minimize Ecommerce Returns
By effectively managing ecommerce returns, you’ll be able to reduce return rates and boost customer satisfaction. Implementing the proven strategies we’ll discuss below will provide valuable insight into customer needs, helping you retain current shoppers and attract future customers.
By focusing on these online returns solutions, your business can significantly diminish returns and enhance the overall customer experience.
Use High-Quality Photos and Accurate Product Descriptions
The number of product pages and listings without proper images or descriptions is surprisingly high, which ultimately leads to returns.
This is a common problem in the online retail industry. When online shopping, customers cannot see and touch the items physically. So, they are left to examine photographs and information provided by the seller.
Here are some ways you can accurately represent your product listings and keep the customers engaged.
Analyzing Your Current Product Pages
For starters, you should set aside some time to look over your current product pages. You should double-check that each product has high-quality images, a clear description, and videos (where applicable).
Implementing 360-degree images
Products have multiple sides, angles, and hidden characteristics that could aid the buyer in their decision process. Providing 360-degree images gives the customer a better idea of the product, especially if you’re selling a technical item or a piece of furniture.
Making demonstrative videos
Images are just one part of the equation. Including demonstrative product videos is also a great way to bring products to life and enhance customer experience.
It can be especially effective when used for clothing and home electronics – the two highest returned categories.
Make Sure Your Product Descriptions Are Accurate
Product descriptions are extremely important. They need to be accurate and they should include all the information that a customer might need before making a purchase.
Make sure you highlight product size, weight, and material.
Describe your products as if you were selling them personally, with as much detail and authentic storytelling as possible. In the same vein, be careful not to exaggerate and leave customers with unattainable expectations.
Always remember to keep your product descriptions up to date to avoid unwanted returns due to any misunderstanding.
Include Helpful Sizing Charts to Reduce Ecommerce Returns
One of the major reasons for returns, particularly in the apparel industry, is when the products don’t fit as expected. Ensure that you provide customers with the right size guides that are up-to-date and compatible on both mobile and desktop.
This will prevent clients from buying goods of incorrect size and returning them. As a result, you’ll decrease your return rate.
Sizing software like VurtueSize and TruFit allows customers to make their purchase decision by trying on clothes to see how they fit. Using these tools can help decrease returns and make the experience of everyone who is shopping online much better.
Make sure the sizing chart you give on a specific product page is appropriate for that product, category, and brand.
If you sell to customers in other countries, don’t forget to include international conversion tables for apparel as well as metric and imperial measures for dimensions.
You can even try using a brick-and-mortar store to display products and walk customers through the process of purchasing your products online. While having high-quality photos and sizing charts online is great, some people enjoy live shopping more.
Encourage Your Customers to Leave Positive Reviews
Asking customers to leave their reviews and feedback on items they’ve purchased is among the key strategies for reducing ecommerce returns. High ratings and positive customer reviews act as a stamp of quality assurance, often more trusted by potential buyers than product descriptions alone.
Customers typically provide valuable insights in their reviews. They discuss various things such as the pros and cons of products, accuracy of sizing and descriptions, and they are offering honest feedback.
Incorporating customer photos can also enhance the authenticity of customer feedback, giving future shoppers a real-world perspective of the product.
Additionally, using checkboxes on return forms to identify specific concerns, like discrepancies in photos or size issues, enables you to make necessary updates to your listings.
To further encourage customers to share their experiences, consider offering incentives like discount coupons or vouchers for submitting reviews. This not only garners more customer reviews but also fosters ongoing engagement with your brand.
Provide Outstanding Customer Service
This is another great way to reduce your return rate and prevent a potential return from occurring before the process begins. You can achieve this by creating a live chat program that allows customers to ask you questions about the items in real time.
With live chat and real-time assistance, your customer support representatives can try to address the customer’s issue before the returns process is initiated.
This also allows the customer service team to recommend a more suitable item or an add-on purchase to better fit their needs.
Make Sure Your Products Are Safely Packed
Ecommerce returns often occur because the product arrives damaged. A simple solution to this issue is to ensure that your packaging can withstand the shipping process.
You can protect your items from damage and breakage by using packing material such as:
Sturdy Boxes for overall safety of the products
Waterproof packaging if your products are prone to water damage.
Plenty of padding and bubble wrap for fragile items
Also, it would be wise to label your boxes with information on what is inside and how to store them.
As you resolve internal issues with your packaging, you can identify damage from other sources and ensure high product quality. For example, you can analyze order data to see if damaged orders come from a specific carrier.
Provide Delivery Estimates
Customers want their items delivered as quickly as possible. So, giving delivery time estimates for your product may help them feel more confident in their purchase.
If a customer needs an item this week but you are unable to ship until the next week, the product is likely to be returned. This is because your consumer no longer requires the product by the time it arrives.
Customers will be pleased knowing when to anticipate the goods. Therefore, you can help minimize returns by clearly identifying your delivery window on the product page.
This is especially important in sectors such as furniture, where goods are manufactured on demand and have long lead times. By giving delivery estimates, you not only reduce returns but also enhance your customer service.
Deliver the Right Customer Orders
Sending the wrong order to the customer is one of the leading causes of returns, with 23% of people citing a wrong item as the reason behind their return. Improving order fulfillment is a great place to start when it comes to lowering eCommerce returns.
Businesses that rely on spreadsheets and Post-it notes to manage orders and fulfillment are setting themselves up for failure. Put in place a system to manage orders, select, pack, dispatch, and shipping. Using a third-party logistics provider (3PL) can significantly improve the efficiency of your fulfillment process.
Implement a Tolerant Return Policy
A tolerant return policy is a cornerstone in managing ecommerce returns effectively. By including clear guidelines on return shipping, businesses can align with customer expectations.
This approach is especially vital for online purchases, where customers value flexibility. Implementing such a policy is among the best practices for giving customers confidence in their buying decisions.
A flexible and tolerant return policy can be greatly enhanced by integrating a self-service portal, allowing customers to initiate returns with ease. This returns portal streamlines the process for customers and aligns with modern expectations of efficiency in online shopping.
It’s not just about easing the returns process; it’s about building trust. By showing a willingness to accommodate returns, businesses send a message of reliability and customer-centricity. That can lead to increased customer loyalty and reduced return rates
Offer Exchanges Before the Returns Process Starts
Offering exchanges before initiating the return process can be a strategic move for online stores to retain repeat customers.
Encouraging shoppers to opt for store credit instead of cash refunds can lead to fewer returns and more sustained customer engagement. This practice not only provides an incentive for online shoppers to continue buying from your store but also helps in maintaining sales revenue.
By presenting store credit as an appealing alternative, businesses can create a win-win situation. Firstly, customers will feel valued and will be more likely to remain loyal. Meanwhile, the store benefits from sustained patronage and reduced logistics involved in handling returns.
Protect Your Company from Fraudulent Returns
Unfortunately, some customers are taking advantage of ecommerce brands. Protecting your company from these fraudulent returns is vital.
By maintaining a robust customer database, online retailers can effectively track return patterns and identify trends that may indicate abuse.
his proactive approach allows businesses to make informed adjustments to their return policies, safeguarding against potential fraud. Monitoring ecommerce returns helps maintain financial integrity and ensures fair practices for genuine customers.
What Are the Most Common Reasons for Customer Returns in Online Businesses?
Understanding the most common reasons for customer returns helps you successfully reduce returns in ecommerce and enhance customer retention.
This insight is crucial for business owners who want to know how to handle returns as a small business. It directly impacts conversion rates and overall satisfaction of ecommerce customers.
By addressing these core issues, businesses can take proactive steps towards minimizing returns and improving the overall shopping experience.
Mismatched Product Expectations
When online shoppers receive a product that doesn’t match their expectations, it often leads to returns. This discrepancy could be due to differences in color, size, or functionality from what was depicted online.
Unmet Quality Standards
Returns due to unmet quality standards occur when the product’s actual quality doesn’t align with what customers anticipated.
Unlike mismatched expectations about appearance or functionality, this concerns the material or manufacturing quality falling short of customer preferences, prompting them to return the item
Sizing and Fit Issues
One of the most common reasons customers return items, especially clothing and footwear, is the wrong size.
Despite size guides, online shoppers face challenges in determining the perfect fit, leading to a high rate of returns in these categories. Simplifying the process returns for sizing issues can greatly enhance customer satisfaction.
Product Defects or Damage
This issue spans across all product categories and is often a result of mishandling during shipping or overlooked quality control. Efficiently handling such returns is crucial to maintain customer trust. And, as a result, your return rate will undoubtedly be lower.
Incorrect deliveries usually result in customers receiving the wrong product. These errors not only inconvenience the customer but also burden businesses with the extra logistics of processing returns and resending the correct items.
When products arrive later than expected, especially in time-sensitive situations like the holiday season, online shoppers may no longer need or want the item, prompting them to process returns.
Managing timely deliveries is as crucial as ensuring the correct product is sent to keep customers happy and reduce return rates.
Getting the Returns Experience Right Enhances Customer Loyalty
When customers return items, a smooth and accommodating process can encourage them to stay engaged with your brand. So, getting this right is very important in securing customer happiness.
By prioritizing a positive returns experience when the customers want to process refunds, businesses can transform a standard transaction into a lasting relationship. So, do your best to keep customers informed and satisfied with their choices.
For example, you can offer store credit and turn a potential loss into an opportunity for repeat business. Or, you can implement free returns on certain occasions.
These kinds of approaches keep buyers interested post-purchase and help maintain a healthy return rate. In the end, remember that the customer always comes first!
It’s Time to Reduce Returns!
So, how do small businesses deal with returns? By implementing the best strategies and practices to minimize return rates!
Doing this will help you efficiently manage returns and meet customer expectations. Understanding common reasons for returns and using a customer-centric approach is the only way for online retailers to significantly boost their operational efficiency.
At Fulfyld, we recognize the importance of accurate and efficient order fulfillment in reducing returns.
Our meticulous double-scanning process during picking and packing, coupled with an organized storage system, ensures that your customers receive the right order every time.
Partnering with Fulfyld means investing in a seamless fulfillment process. Our services are tailored to help you reduce ecommerce returns and elevate your brand. Reach out to us and we’ll help you achieve ecommerce excellence!
What are ecommerce returns?
Ecommerce returns refer to the process where customers return previously purchased items to ecommerce store. This process is a standard aspect of online shopping, and ecommerce businesses must have a clear and efficient system in place to handle these returns
How long does the ecommerce return process last?
The returns process, from post-purchase to the completion of return shipping, can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The duration depends on various factors like the return policy of ecommerce stores, shipping speed, and the efficiency of the return system.
What do most companies do with returns?
Most companies analyze returns to gain customer data insights, helping them understand why items are returned. This information is often used to improve products or services, and in some cases, returned items are refurbished, resold, or recycled by the own business
What is the average ecommerce return rate?
The average return rate in ecommerce is typically 20-30%. Since this rate can significantly impact profit margins, efficient returns management is one of the priorities for any ecommerce business.
How can technology and software solutions aid in reducing return rates?
Technology and software solutions can significantly streamline the process of ecommerce returns, enhancing the overall customer experience. By utilizing features like automated tracking numbers, advanced tools provide transparency and ease, allowing you to manage returns efficiently.