How to reduce e-commerce product return rates

For consumers, returning one or multiple products purchased online is a hassle. But, for e-commerce stores, this hassle and inconvenience are even greater. For the online store, product returns mean:

  • Refunding the product price
  • Shipping and return costs
  • Returned items can’t always be resold for the same price
  • Negative impact on the brand’s image due to unsatisfied consumers (it can generate negative reviews)
  • Lost time and resources (such as customer support) to deal with returns
  • Impact on profit margins.

So, if you have an online store and would like to reduce your return rates, or maybe, even eliminate them, spend a couple of minutes reading the rest of this article.

Tips on Reducing Return Rates

When talking about reducing e-commerce return rates, a lot of online retailers make the mistake of believing that toughening return policies is the answer.

If you also believe that, I got some bad news for you: when it comes to online shopping, consumers are more likely to buy from an e-commerce store that has a simple return policy. Consumers buy with much more confidence when they know they can return the merchandise without any headaches or extra costs.

Now that you see that toughening return policies is out of the question, here are some tips to help you reduce your product return rates.

Be clear when describing your products

The golden rule here is: your product should be in line with the quality your consumers expect. And what’s that “quality”? The one specified by you.

The first step in reducing the rate of return is to show that your products are as good as what your marketing materials say. We know that quality is something intangible and that advertising campaigns stir people’s imagination, causing each one to create their own expectations.

Use images and videos

We know that product images and videos play a significant role in the purchase decision especially when it comes to online purchases. In most cases, they’re even more important than the product description itself.

Because of that, when we talk about product images, they must be in high-quality and show as many details as possible. Using Augmented Reality, for example, your consumers will not only be able to interact with your product in an immersive manner, but they’ll also be able to view it in different angles and in different settings.

In addition to AR, there’s also photorealistic 3D images that are created using CGI (computer-generated imagery) software. These images are extremely versatile and are nearly impossible to be told apart from traditional photography.

The role product videos play in reducing product return rates is just as critical as product images. As I mentioned in this previous article, videos provide much more information than any other medium (such as descriptions and photos), because they are much more attention-grabbing.

Se as imagens desempenham um papel importante na missão de diminuir a taxa de retorno, o mesmo ocorre com os vídeos de produtos. Como comentamos neste artigo, os vídeos fornecem muito mais informações do que qualquer outro meio (como descrições e fotos), porque de modo geral captam muito mais a nossa atenção.

So, why not create how-to videos showing how to set-up or use your products? When a product is complex or highly technical, they have a higher likelihood of being returned because the consumer does not know how to set it up or use it. Customer frustration can be one of the reasons for your high return rate.

Encourage reviews

It’s one thing for you to talk about your products and to demonstrate it. Its something completely different when your customers give a testimonial or say something about your product.

When such comments are positive, the reviews can not only encourage others to buy your product but it also increases your credibility.

Uma coisa é você falar e mostrar seu produto. Algo totalmente diferente é quando seus clientes dão depoimentos. Quando positivas, as avaliações dos consumidores incentivam a compra e aumentam a credibilidade e a confiabilidade geral do seu produto.

But even a negative review can be quite helpful. For example, suppose you made a small change to one of your products and thought no one would notice. It turns out that one of your customers noticed and left a complaint in the comments.

That same customer returned the product, and a similar situation could have happened ten times more with other people, causing the rate of return to increase.

Without a review and/or comment on your site, it might take you a while to realize what was the problem, but seeing customers criticizing your product in reviews makes it possible for you to take immediate action and reverse the situation.

Wrapping up

We understand that having a good return policy is a best practice for online retailers. However, no e-commerce wants to have a high rate of return. Returns can be a hassle for online stores and to avoid them you need to take action.

Always remember that, from all of our five senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight) our vision is the one we rely on the most when shopping online. So we believe that of all the strategies we discussed in this article, using photorealistic product images and videos are the most important.

Want to learn more about reducing product returns in your e-commerce store? Reach out to us! It would be awesome to hear from you.

‘Till next time!