Dealing with returns stinks.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. (Like those suckers they sell in old general stores that have a cricket in the middle. 🤢)
It’s one of the massive downsides to being the owner of an ecommerce business.
You have to spend precious time and effort dealing with packages, doling out refunds, and trying to do it all with a smile on your face and a positive attitude so you don’t push anyone toward the competition.
Chin up, pal. There’s help. We have some tips to share that can help you reduce the number of returns/refunds for your online store.
It’s not that shocking that one of the reasons people make returns is that the item they ordered doesn’t match up with what they saw online.
First, let’s talk about images. Each product should have a high-quality photo. Actually, you need at least four: front, back, and each side. (Don’t hesitate to spend a little money on a professional photographer. It’s worth it.)
It’s even better if you take it a step further and do videos. Don’t panic – it can be a simple clip that shows the product from all sides. But it could be all it takes to keep a customer from making a return.
The next – very important – component of a great product page is the product description. Be specific about the dimensions and an explanation of the material it’s made of, too.
Bottom line: Give your customers as accurate a description as possible – in words and images – to reduce the likelihood that they’ll end up dissatisfied and requesting a refund.
Pro Tip: Make sure they’re optimized for mobile, too.
Here’s a product page from Gap.com that includes all the right elements:
With multiple angles and a video, it’s much easier for a customer to get a feel for this product.
If your online store offers any sort of clothing, you MUST include these elements or you can expect a whole lotta returns dragging down the profits of your ecommerce business.
Here are some examples from Old Navy:
When you click on “What’s My Size?” this popup opens:
Customers can put in their info, click next, answer a few more questions, and get the best size:
Wish.com has a great fitting tool:
Customers who have already purchased and received their items can weigh in on the fit, helping future customers make a better sizing decision, reducing the amount of size-related returns.
Always make sure your customers can get in touch with you when they have a question about their product or if an issue comes up.
Being responsive will prevent people from initiating a return out of frustration. Give them options, too. Other than the standard phone and email options, offer instant messaging or live chat.
The quicker and easier it is to get in touch with you, the less likely it is that they will be dissatisfied with their order.
This should go without saying, but...almost a quarter of online returns are the result of a customer receiving the wrong shipment.
That’s a pretty big chunk. Paying close attention to your order-filling process should obviously be a high priority for your ecommerce business.
Keep track of the reason for each and every return. (A spreadsheet is a great way to organize this.)
At the end of every month, you can analyze the data and see what patterns emerge so that you can form a plan of action.
Here are a few examples of reasons for returns and what you can do to mitigate them in the future.
As much as you’d like to say, “Well, change it back, Susan,” you can’t do that.
There also isn’t much you can do to keep customers from randomly deciding their purchase was a mistake.
If your analysis shows this reason for returns is popping up frequently, it may be time to take a look at your target audience and start to shift toward retaining customers instead of getting new business.
One way to head these kinds of shoppers off before they hit the return button is to send them periodic emails to generate excitement while they wait for their product to arrive.
Send unboxing videos, pictures of other people enjoying the product, advice on how to use it, etc.
There’s a lot you can do to keep them looking forward to their order’s arrival.
Of course, if this is a common theme among your returns, it’s time to do some serious intervention into your process, from picking to packing and dispatching.
Find the weak link in the chain and fix it ASAP.
You don’t have to run an online store long to recognize the people who think they’re able to just “rent” your product and return it on a whim.
These serial offenders can cost your ecommerce business thousands of dollars. Some of them purchase multiple items, fully intending on making a return when they decide which one they like better. Others buy without restraint, knowing that your flexible return policy allows for it.
So, what can you do about it?
If you have a customer like this, keep a close eye on their buying/returning habits and document it. You may have to give them a warning or go an even more extreme route and block them from being able to shop at your online store for a period of time.
Before it comes to that, though, it’s a good idea to send a friendly email and let the customer know you’ve noticed their high return rate and that you’re aware and will be paying attention to future purchases.
Hopefully, a kind warning like this will set them on the straight and narrow. And if you lose their business, you’re probably coming out ahead.
A high refund rate is a serious drain on your ecommerce business.
Having a thorough, image-heavy product page, supplying fit and size guides for clothing, and offering top-notch customer service are all ways to combat the dreaded refund.
When you’re careful about filling orders correctly, analyzing, and correcting course when necessary, you’ll see a drop in returns and refund requests.