Ecommerce Growth

21 Proven Ways to "Prevent" eCommerce Returns (+ Smart Handling ideas)

Festive season or not, eCommerce returns are a reality. In this guide we explore 21 ways you can immediately adopt to reduce returns.

21 Proven Ways to "Prevent" eCommerce Returns (+ Smart Handling ideas)

30% of all products bought online are returned. It’s a nightmare for online retailers. 

To add to this, fraudulent behavior involving returns has also been on the rise, especially post the pandemic.

But, there are ways to prevent returns: onsite optimizations that help shoppers pick the right product - is what this post is mostly about. 

We’ll be covering:

How to prevent eCommerce returns

How to handle eCommerce return requests (with care)

How to prevent return fraud

How to Prevent eCommerce Returns

1. Make it easy to exchange 

2. A/B test your customer support touchpoints

3. Set very clear delivery expectations

4. Create memorable unboxing experiences

5. Study existing returns data for patterns

6. Reduce shipping damages

7. Build lifetime value with returns

8. Offer helpful post purchase communication

9. Improve customer relationship through feedback

10. Write accurate & detailed product descriptions 

11. Feature an elaborate FAQ section

12. Describe what the package contains

13. Improve visual imagery across your store

14. Use videos to create context

15. Offer an easy-to-use size guide

16. Showcase only verified customer reviews (& enable visuals)

17. Feature a Q&A section (real questions win!)

18. Feature try-on technology

19. Feature UGC on your product pages

20. Offer store credit against gift returns

21. Weed out fraudulent returners

1. Make it easy to exchange 

It’s simple: your shoppers won’t explicitly think of exchanging unless you give them a reason to. 

Here’s what you can do to promote exchanges to reduce eCommerce returns:

✔ Extend your exchange window during peak season 

✔ Keep your exchange policy flexible (account for the times purchases made in-store can’t be returned the same way, which many businesses saw as a problem during the pandemic)

✔ Offer them in-mail exchange options (this is a way for shoppers to choose from among the recommendations you make, so keep them super relevant)

✔ Give them bonus store credit for exchanges (and state this clearly in your policy)

✔ Offer a note with numbered steps on how a shopper can carry out exchanges (feature a QR code to your entire policy)

✔ Send prepaid shipping labels as part of your package (you can always include this cost in your overall pricing)

2. A/B test your customer support touchpoints

Since one of the major reasons behind eCommerce product returns is shoppers not finding support at the right time, you may have to consider:

✔ Test between times when shoppers are most active & changing your support timings accordingly (the sooner they can speak to a human, the better)

✔ Gather data on how each support channel is being used (what sort of queries come through email vs. what gets asked over WhatsApp?)

✔ Gather data from across social media engagements (especially check what happened to customer behavior when a grievance was immediately considered & addressed)

✔ Create conversational commerce between simultaneous touchpoints (test between providing recommendations between channels, or even offering specific discounts based on the touchpoint)

Outdoor brand Patagonia takes the guesswork out of customer support across their store by even plugging sub-pages with info on all customer support touchpoints:

Patagonia features customer support info across pages to cover eCommerce returns best practices

3. Set very clear delivery expectations

Considering about 35% of all product returns can be ascribed to reasons like delivery delays, it’s critical that you make adjustments to prevent those:

✔ Feature a delivery window (when you offer a date range, it helps in setting customer expectations)

✔ Offer ongoing updates about the order being shipped (alongside offer a tracking link that shoppers can use for real-time updates)

✔ Use a shipping partner with whom you can strike up an SLA (service level agreement)

4. Create memorable unboxing experiences

Over 90, 000 people key in “unboxing” on YouTube every month. 

And great unboxing content has been linked to shoppers feeling a lesser need to make eCommerce product returns—here’s what you need to focus on:

✔ Show what you personalize in the package ( is it a special name tag? Or is there an engraving? Use a note to direct shoppers to what’s inside a package)

✔ Talk them through care instructions if you’re offering unboxing explainer video content

✔ Send them an email as soon as the product is received (list out the product’s journey, care instructions, how to use it to its best potential etc.)

eCommerce brand Dermalogica collaborates with influencers & micro-influencers to come up with detailed unboxing videos:

Dermalogica features unboxing videos to reduce eCommerce returns

5. Study existing returns data for patterns

Unless you club your existing product returns into data clusters, you’ll find it tough to study the reasons and find the right eCommerce returns solutions. 

Here are a few to-dos before you start assessing your product returns data:

✔ Tag every return by reason 

✔ Check complaints, feedback and queries for frequently used words (these can tell you about the repeated challenges shoppers may be facing including size, color, fit etc.)

✔ Use your returns data to segment customers (if you’re able to tell from this who has made the least returns while purchasing more regularly, you can sharpen your retention strategy)

6. Reduce shipping damages

Even if you’ve set up a great buying experience and flanked it by able customer support, your rate of returns can suddenly increase. 

In such cases, to reduce product returns, you may have to look at shipping best practices:

✔ Choose only well-fitted packaging (loose space inside the box can often lead to products, especially fragile ones, being damaged)

✔ Charge a premium for package protection (and feature this on your product & checkout pages)

✔ Do trial runs with new shipping partners 

Further reading: 25 Proven Ways To Reduce eCommerce Shipping Costs

7. Build lifetime value with returns

And to make your eCommerce returns policy drive a lesser rate of returns while enhancing lifetime value:

✔ Extend the window for exchanges (when shoppers see this comparative flexibility, they may be more inclined to exchange than to return)

✔ Offer varied options to make the return to (for example, are you letting shoppers return a product but prompting them to send back the amount to store credit? Are you letting them choose the refund to go to a gift card?)

✔ Feature at least one return type that’s FREE (this makes it easier for you to protect your profit  margins while enhancing customer experience)

8. Offer helpful post purchase communication

57% of shoppers admit they’d pay a premium for great customer support. 

And this means your eCommerce returns process has to allow for post purchase communication that resolves customer anxiety & furthers trust:

✔ Send them a welcome email talking about brand values and why the product they’ve chosen is a great fit

✔ Let them know what would be the fastest way for them to reach you to receive instant support

✔ Highlight important policies in your emails 

✔ Offer them value-add content so that they can enjoy their purchase more

For more ideas, read: Deliver An Amazing Post Purchase Experience: 17 Ideas (& Examples)

9. Improve customer relationship through feedback

When you’re trying to bring down eCommerce product returns, you’ll have to focus on customer feedback. 

Gather feedback by reaching out to repeat buyers over mail—incentivize reviews to be able to gather more of them. 

And also make sure to follow social media mentions to see what potential customers and followers are saying about product quality, buying experience, customer support etc. 

Check out how Timberland features a sticky feedback button, which contributes towards reducing the product return rate:

. Timberland shows a sticky website feedback button to handle eCommerce product returns

10. Write accurate & detailed product descriptions 

Shopper doubt is real and many eCommerce returns happen because buyers don’t have enough information on:

- How and when to use the product

- Why to include it in their routine/regimen at the moment

- What to expect as results from it

Description inaccuracy is another challenge you need to solve because more than 55% ofshoppers are known to return products when they come across this. 

Here’s how you can bring more clarity into your product descriptions:

✔ A section which comobines specifications, features & benefits

✔ Special sizing, ingredient or sourcing info based on which industry you operate in

✔ Care / wash instructions to make the use context super clear

✔ A panel of icons to call out quick takeaways

✔ Clear shipping, delivery and returns info—if there’s a warranty or guarantee, mention that as well

eCommerce blanket brand Hush follows up their product description section with press mentions for instant impact:

Hush uses detailed product descriptions as one of their eCommerce returns solutions

11. Feature an elaborate FAQ section

The truth is your product content is likely to have some gaps, and that could fire up the rate of eCommerce returns. 

However, when you feature a detailed FAQ section (or even a separate page), shoppers have the freedom to go over it before they apply for a return. 

✔ Look at customer reviews to see which aspects shoppers consider the most crucial in a product (cover these in your FAQ)

✔ Mention disclaimers clearly (so that if a part of your TG isn’t able to use your products at selected times, your FAQ covers that)

✔ Don’t place it beyond your reviews section (most shoppers, even if they have questions, may not think of scrolling beyond this point)

12. Describe what the package contains  

This is especially true for more technical or complex packages—think electronics, coord clothing and even furniture pieces. 

To reduce eCommerce returns, you’ll have to prioritize breaking down the package contents within the first fold itself—this reduces the risk of the customer missing out on this info if they don’t scroll. 

Exactly what Solo Stove does to improve their eCommerce returns management process:

Solo Stove separately mentions what a package contains to improve eCommerce returns

13. Improve visual imagery across your store

Your images need to convey authenticity and a sense of experience across your store, and specifically the most high intent pages: homepage, category pages and product pages. 

To improve the visual imagery to reduce eCommerce returns:

✔ Highlight in-use photos of products 

✔ Bring out granularity in some photos (especially if your product USP involves a better weave or texture)

✔ Feature a variety of skin tones and body types & sizes based on what you’re selling (this becomes especially important for brands that sell clothing and makeup)

✔ Consider using a product viewer that enables 360° viewing

Yarn store Good Yarn brings down the rate of eCommerce product returns by featuring a range of photos for all products—even showing variants across a range of skin colors & body types:

Good Yarn features multiple models to enrich their visual imagery and reduce eCommerce returns

14. Use videos to create context

This is the best way to elevate your product content beyond text and images, and reduce eCommerce returns in the process. 

Using video on your eCommerce store leverages the fact that the reach of this medium is over 92% among the global audience—here are a few tips to make your videos reduce returns:

✔ Feature explainer videos (talk about the how, what, when, why clearly)

✔ Display videos as part of your reviews (makes other perspectives about the product resolve doubts)

✔ Send related video content over email (for example, if you own a food brand, you could consider sending relevant recipes to someone who has bought from you)

Men’s grooming brand Beardbrand is known for creating customer trust through their videos—they even put a short brand explainer video on their homepage that features their Founder, Eric Bandholz:

Beardbrand leverages video content for eCommerce returns reduction

15. Offer an easy-to-use size guide

After all, 70% of all eCommerce returns are invariably fit-related. 

What this means is that you’ll need to feature a sizing chart that follows conventions and position it where a shopper can find it easily—here are few best practices to follow:

✔ Make it easy to change size based on location

✔ Offer a visual representation of how to measure (numbering the locations, circling the relevant parts etc.)

✔ Feature the size the model is wearing (this instantly offers a better visual context of how the product’s fall and fit will likely be based on body size & type)

eCommerce fashion brand Heron Preston allows switching regions to see more precise dimensions and also offers customer support details to clarify shopper doubts on sizing:

Heron Preston features an easy size guide to support their eCommerce returns policy

16. Showcase only verified customer reviews (& enable visuals)

27% of shoppers will trust only those reviews they’re able to verify. 

So in terms of eCommerce returns best practices, it’s ideal to feature only verified reviews across your store. 

Here are a few to-dos to ensure your reviews offer information, which in turn reduces eCommerce returns:

✔ Ensure they carry the “verified buyer” label 

✔ Ask specific questions while asking for reviews (this enriches the depth with which shoppers write them)

✔ Incentivize your email subscribers to write (more likely you’ll have more well-rounded and honest sharings from loyalists)

✔ Let visitors answer “was this review helpful?” with a “yes” or “no” (gathering this data will help you see which reviews are working and why)

Supplement brand Bubs Naturals sets instant context of use in their reviews, but what’s better, they use a highlight phrase to help draw attention:

Bubs Naturals displays detailed reviews to reduce eCommerce product returns

17. Feature a Q&A section (real questions win!)

Like visual UGC and reviews, potential shoppers are eager to see what kind of doubts and questions fellow shoppers raise. 

The Q&A section can also reduce eCommerce returns by bringing to light questions that may not be covered within the FAQ section. 

Supplement brand Plant People features Q&A alongside their reviews and also highlights the “Ask a Question” button:

Plant People features a Q&A section on product pages for better eCommerce returns management

18. Feature try-on technology

It’s when shoppers are unsure of the outcome after purchasing that they become more likely to return a product. 

Anything that has an amplified visual component to it, runs this risk—think sunglasses, makeup and even home decor. 

So to improve the eCommerce returns process, consider try-on technology and make the steps easy to follow—a numbered process like a quiz works well!

Eyewear brand Warby Parker is known to prevent eCommerce returns using this method, which also helps them drive conversions:

Warby Parker offers try-on technology to reduce eCommerce returns

19. Feature UGC on your product pages

Data reveals that 40% of shoppers find it “extremely important” to be able to look up on UGC before making the final purchase decision. 

While figuring how to handle eCommerce returns, you’ll have to especially focus on featuring UGC on your product pages—here’s what works best:

✔ Display a social wall linking directly to your other channels 

✔ Feature UGC to make product recommendations 

✔ Use a UGC video in your main product photo gallery

Makeup brand Alleyoop features a UGC video within their main gallery to elaborate the product’s use-context better:

Alleyoop includes UGC video in their image gallery on product pages to reduce product returns

You may want to read: 27 Brilliant User-Generated Content Examples (eCommerce)

20. Offer store credit against gift returns

When you’re trying to reduce eCommerce returns, another way to do this is to offer gift cards if a gift item is placed for return. 

21. Weed out fraudulent returners 

As we mentioned earlier, tagging your returns by reasons will help you detect serial returners—block them and stop all email communication. 

Go with a fraud protection plan or use a plug-in that your eCommerce platform provides (Shopify has Fraud Protect, for example). 

How to handle eCommerce return requests (with care)

To finetune your eCommerce returns tracking, there are several steps you can take:

a. Display return instructions clearly on the package

Clarify what’s acceptable-as-return conditions

Should customers return the tags and paperwork when they return the product or is just the invoice enough? Should it be absolutely untouched in terms of use before the return? 

Convey who will cover return shipping

Because let’s admit it - 73% of shoppers have been known to state that their overall return experience decides how likely they are to shop with a retailer again. 

Include a QR code that takes them to your policy page

Nothing like the whole policy being accessible in one go

b. Make it super easy for them to return

To improve eCommerce returns, bring ease to the lives of shoppers—here are a few things to remember:

Have the minimum number of steps to get the job done

Reduce the number of clicks, even if you have to collect feedback. Inform them of a tentative return date so that they can plan. 

Offer easy access to relevant customer support

Highlight your customer support numbers across emails, app notifications, confirmation messages and even on the product packaging. 

Explain all the nuances of a return in a FAQ page

These include what customers opting for international shipping do, what rules someone returning a gift must follow, on misplacing return labels etc. 

Here’s a look at how men’s fashion brand Bonobos creates clarity on their FAQ page:

bonobos return faq example

c. Keep them updated on the status of their return

Offer in-app returns status updates

Introducing a progress bar under such circumstances could be a good idea to relay the different points and mark the completed parts with a different color to enhance UX

‍Stagger alert messages until the return is completely successful

Sending a thank you message soon after the return has been handed to the courier and another one when it’s about to reach your warehouse could be relevant. Also email a tracking link. 

d. Automate returns to reduce processing time

Here are a few things to ensure if you do decide to automate your eCommerce product returns:

Take up the responsibility of free shipping

If you smartly incorporate the cost of shipping into the price, free shipping is ideal.

Avoid third-party returns (if you can)

For one, the conversation will cease to be just between you and the customer. Secondly, the customer is also likely to have trust issues if it’s not a direct return and may develop frustration around delays, lack of communication etc. 

e. Offer ongoing customer assistance

When it comes to reducing eCommerce returns, ongoing customer assistance needs to be an indispensable feature. 

Make live chat a constant feature

Make sure your customers are able to access support the moment they hit your website. 

Here’s a snapshot of how Daily Harvest makes their live chat relevant, easy to access, timely and offering multiple options to choose from:

daily harvest customer support example

Introduce more resources to amp up customer self-service

Think FAQ, think important policies, think important back-end processes that may have an impact on shipping or returns. 

Exactly why a brand like Bellroy features an independent page on customer care resources:

bellroy self service faq example

How to prevent return fraud

Statistics say when retailers make sales worth $1 billion, they see $166 million in returns.

And for $100 worth of returns, they lose $10.30 to fraud.

And this is why many eCommerce majors take the fuss-free route of simply issuing a refund. 

What are the different types of eCommerce return fraud?

According to one study, 66 billion transactions will be followed by 33 million fraud-related disputes by 2022. These would be a result of an amalgamation of fraudulent activity, processing errors, authorization failures and consumer disputes. 

Here’s a quick look at some of the most common kinds of return fraud that occur as part of eCommerce transactions. 

Chargeback fraud

Chargeback fraud occurs on the common principle of chargebacks where an amount that has been charged to a credit or debit card must be returned by the retailer to the customer. There are typically two versions of this kind of fraud - criminal and friendly.

In criminal chargebacks, fraudulent customers purchase with the intention of retaining the product and then ask for the price deducted to be returned to them. In friendly fraud, which is often accidental, a purchaser might not remember why an amount has been charged to their card and as a result, demand that it be returned. All friendly chargebacks aren’t accidental though - some are thoroughly planned. 

Gift card fraud

This kind of return fraud has become commonplace because gift cards can function with lesser constraints and rules. Typically, fraudsters purchase products with a stolen card and then request a cancellation by having the amount returned to a gift card.

In parallel, the card’s original owner contacts the retailer, informs its stolen status and requests to have the amount refunded to the account attached to the card. This way, the retailer loses money twice on the same product. 

BOPIS fraud

This is a kind of fraudulent activity that is based on the now popular buy-online-pickup-in-store model of purchases.

Fraudsters use stolen cards to buy products online and then pick them up later at the store. They either keep these products or resell them. 

What are the possible behaviors to watch out for?

✔ Same customer, multiple cards

This should get your alarm bells ringing because this is a typical fraudster tactic. What fraudsters do is use multiple cards to run a check on which ones are really working. 

✔ Unfamiliar IP address location

What distinguishes a trustworthy transaction from one that’s not is the closeness between three important aspects - billing address, shipping address and IP address. If these are far flung, you have cause for concern. 

✔ Multiple failed purchase attempts

Similar to the first point, this may also reveal that a fraudster is trying to experiment with multiple stolen cards and see which of them work. 

✔ Lack of social footprint

This is another red flag because fraudsters end up illegally latching on to multiple identities without having consistency. This typically shows up across social media and other online channels through which someone’s authentic identity can be verified. 

✔ Change of shipping address after order has been placed

Fraudsters typically will key in one shipping address and that’s what gets logged at the retailer’s backend system. However, they may call the shipping company later to change the address. 

10 immediate ways to deal with return fraud

While following eCommerce returns best practices, here’s how you can deal with potential fraud and reduce return rate:

✔ Make your returns policy more product-focused

In order to offer a fair return policy, you have to make the latter product-focused instead of making it fully customer centric. 

✔ Offer free returns only for cart sizes above a threshold

Free returns don’t require the customer’s skin in the game, beyond the actual purchase.

This can be especially damaging if fraudsters are planning to swindle through returns.

So, put a price on shipping if the cart size or order value is beneath a certain threshold.

Anything above then becomes applicable for free return. 

✔ Blacklist serial returners and fraudulent customers

One way of creating a boundary is to explicitly mention in your return policy how many maximum returns in a year you will accept from a shopper.

You could also punish attempted returns beyond the permitted number by deactivating a shopper’s account, reporting them etc.

Just like in early 2022, fashion giant Asos declared they would deactivate the accounts of those who serially display fraudulent behavior - while extending their return window from 28 days to 45 days. 

✔ Verify billing and shipping address before processing return

It’s a malpractice that many fraudsters follow as a rule of thumb - to play around with multiple addresses.

Apart from verifying the billing and shipping address before processing a return, make sure you have verification set up at the checkout stage and then once again before dispatch.

This multi-layered address verification process can weed out fraudulent behavior more easily. 

✔ Implement a quality check process at the customer's doorstep

A doorstep quality check ensures the product is shipped back for the right reasons.

You can create a checklist for the carrier personnel who is supposed to carry this checkout, which could potentially include quality of the product, presence of the tag (and run a check on size, color, style etc. against the original order), the receipt the customer received with the package and prepaid return label (if any). 

✔ Offer store credits instead of cash returns

The biggest fallout of returns is the financial pressure it can create on a business. 

Amplify that with the occurrence of fraud and you get a picture that’s mired with uncertainty. One way to reduce the financial pressure and risk is to make store credits the norm for returns, instead of cash refunds. 

✔ Place a time limit on returns

In order to make their return policies more customer centric, businesses can de-prioritize their own profitability by declaring an impractical frame of time to accept returns.

This is bad news, because fraudsters will definitely take notice.

So if you think a 90 day window will please shoppers, consider bringing it down to 30 days.

Most businesses cut out the risk and declare the return window as anywhere between 15 days and 30 days. 

✔ Analyze the digital footprint of your shoppers

This is a step that’s often highlighted when it comes to personalizing for customers. 

However, it holds as effective if you’re trying to get a better picture of possible fraud. From location details to frequent log-ins and browsing activity patterns to devices through which they access the web, digital footprint can be key to detecting early signs of fraud.

FAQs around eCommerce returns

What are the typical reasons for eCommerce returns? 

There are a number of reasons why customers may want to return a product they decided to purchase earlier. Here are the most typical ones. 

Product disparity: Essentially, what arrives at a customer’s desktop does not look or feel the way they expected when they saw pictures or read the product description online. 

Wrong product shipped & received: This is a case of absolute expectation mismatch because the customer ends up receiving a product they didn’t want in the first place. 

Damaged product: When the product reaches the customer’s doorstep, it is not fit to be used. The other instance is where despite finding a minor fault, the customer prefers to send back the product and opt for an exchange. 

Fraudulent intentions: In fact, according to a National Retail Federation study, of the 20.8 % of total retail sales that accounted for returns, 10.6% accounted for fraud. 

How early do customers expect a refund?

According to a survey that was conducted across 4722 buyers, 77% respondents stated that they were less likely to recommend a business if they didn’t issue a credit fast enough. 72% from the same study said that they expect a refund to be issued within 5 working days from the date of return. 

What should I do with international returns?

When handling international eCommerce product returns:

Put a streamlined process in place

This will ensure you get the hang of multiple critical aspects including warehousing, labeling, scanning and picking. The idea is to ensure zero errors across these steps. 

Introduce a crisp and clear international returns policy

Nothing too complex where customers lose track of the simplest details. Visually recreating the steps for international returns may also be effective.

Seek the services of a returns solution provider

Ensuring a trustworthy returns provider is there to support, means the customer won’t have to take the trouble of shipping the product back to you on their own. 

What should I do with products not in a condition to be resold?

While reselling a product that has been returned in perfect condition is the ideal scenario, there will be times when it’ll be different. In case you do receive products in a condition that they can’t be resold, here are a few other options you may want to consider. 

  • Send them to be recycled
  • Put them up to support donations or causes
  • Declare an online sale with steep discounts 

Is there a way to transform returns into exchanges?

With some simple interventions you could turn more of your returns into exchanges. 

Make alternative suggestions

Treat these as product recommendations done at a different stage of the customer journey. When a customer requests a return, offer suggestions based on their behavior and browsing and purchase history.

Create an incentivized case for exchange

Because shoppers don’t lose much if they opt for returns - you do. To reduce a negative impact on cash flow, create incentives around exchanges. Offer discounts that promise to slash the price of the exchange. 

Introduce exchanges with a free shipping offer

And to make it financially viable, charge a small fee for the return. The comparative advantage on an exchange may turn out to be a good persuader. 

‍Should I have a separate gift returns policy?

It’s ideal to include a section on gift returns in your existing eCommerce product return policy.

Here are a few ways to make returning gifts easier for customers. 

Create a gift option at checkout

Just as Amazon does, so that it becomes clear that the shipping address won’t be the same as the billing address. 

Include a set of return instructions

You can easily make this a protocol especially for those products that are to be delivered as gifts. This makes it easy for the end user to request for a return and have a more satisfying experience with your brand. 

Allow returns to a gift card

This way you can waive off any return or restocking fee. 

Is there a need to tweak the return policy for the festive season?

To streamline your eCommerce returns process for the peak buying season:

Create a limited period for free returns

This will ensure the most serious returners swing into action without delay - while keeping away those that might change their mind around the corner. 

Introduce a temporary extension to the return window

This can be especially helpful for those who purchase products ahead of a particular festivity - only to find themselves cut short by the typical return window. 

Rework the store exchange policy

This can especially be helpful to avoid chaos and minimize customer frustration. Keeping separate return windows for in-store exchanges is a good idea. 

What does a typical returns management process look like?

The typical eCommerce returns management process has 5 distinct stages:

  • The customer receives the product, is disappointed and requests a return
  • Your business approves of the return (or not)
  • The returns solution provider picks up the product from the customer’s doorstep
  • The product is dropped back at the warehouse or sorting facility
  • The product is absorbed back into the current inventory

‍Do easy returns make customers come back for more?

The answer is a big “Yes”. According to Klarna, 84% of UK online retail shoppers won’t go back to purchasing from a business if they don’t experience a seamless return process. 

What is product return rate in eCommerce?

The product return rate is a key eCommerce metric that calculates the percentage of products returned in comparison to the total number of products sold. 

An eCommerce business can gauge several crucial factors through the help of their product return rate, including:

→ Customer satisfaction 

→  The quality of the product

→  The quality of shipping, package and delivery

How do you analyze product return rate precisely?

If you’re using this metric, it’s of great importance that you analyze its causes closely. 

Since the product return rate relates to why customers return a product and how often, you’ll have to:

Gather data in detail: For product return rate analysis, you’ll have to collect data on what kinds of products are facing most returns, reasons for returns to detect patterns as well as customers who return repeatedly to weed out defaulters. 

Use a consistent method: Whether you use historical data to forecast and predict product returns or base the analysis on real-time patterns, a consistent method will help you reduce variability in how you assess. 

Revisit your return policy: The final step is to go back to your brand’s return policy and see what may have been contributing to more than desirable returns. If needed, you can then change the return window, alter the clauses people can use to return items or even lift free shipping from all products. 

What causes high product return rates?

While there are many reasons behind high product return rates in eCommerce, these stand out as the most critical:

→ Incorrect sizing

→ Wrong product shipped

→ Difference between image, description and real product that has been delivered 

→ Gifts that are returned 

What are the best practices to reduce product return rate?

To ensure your product returns come down, leverage:

A helpful live chat: Feature FAQ on returns and exchanges along with order status, product questions etc.

Make product descriptions comprehensive: Include features, specifications, any variations that may exist 

Feature photos that are close to the real product: And if there are shade or color variants, maintain clean swatches and label them as well

Seek customer feedback: Maintain an onsite sticky feedback button and also send incentivized feedback surveys to email subscribers

Create elaborating sizing charts & guides: Some brands featur

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