How to Reduce Product Return Rates

Product returns significantly impact a retailer’s profit, with 30% of products bought online being returned. That’s a lot of money‚ and doesn’t help with brand image and customer retention. So, it’s no wonder reducing eCommerce product return rates is a big focus for anyone selling online.

Improving efficiencies around your product return policies will help convert your browsers to buyers, such as cutting delivery costs and simplifying the returns process. While this is key, it can also come at a cost to you, the retailer. So, we will look at how to reduce product return rates altogether.

So, how can you reduce product return rates?

Some eCommerce businesses have relatively relaxed returns policies. Think of free returns and easy processes like courier collection or designated drop-off sites. As a result, some customers may be inclined to make unnecessary purchases because they can “send the other one back.” You’d do the same in a fitting room, right?

However, giving your customers all the information they need can reduce uncertainty and increase conversions. As well as detailed product descriptions, here are some of the other things you should provide to reduce the number of returns you have to deal with:

Sizing (especially crucial for fashion and apparel):

Give the customer confidence in their purchase with size guides and comparison tools. A perfect example of an online retailer doing this is ASOS. They have a tool that tells you the percentage of people of your size who bought the item and didn’t return it. You should also consider including sizing charts so customers can choose the right size.

Dimensions (essential for homewares):

Does it come already assembled in its final size? Does it come packed in a smaller box that will make it easy to get up the stairs or in the lift? Customers need to know these details, so ensure you’re providing them. In other words, they need to know if the wardrobe will fit in the bedroom and if it will make it up the stairs!

Care instructions:

For instance, many people won’t buy something if it isn’t easy to iron. Equally, if a garment is “dry-clean” only and the shopper doesn’t realize until it’s arrived, online shoppers are more likely to return a product. In addition, care instructions are a great way of encouraging people to keep products longer. An essential factor to highlight at a time when sustainability is a crucial concern for a lot of customers.

High-quality product imagery:

Good product imagery gives your customers a full view of the product. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words! Make sure you’re giving customers the ability to zoom in as well as 3D and 360 views. Product pages offering these functionalities can generate conversion rates 40% higher than those without.

When choosing which images to include on your product pages, you must replicate the in-store experience. They should provide answers to any questions the customer might have. For instance, it might be the texture of a fabric or the grain of a wooden piece of furniture. Remember, the aim of the game is to keep customers returning. Curating high-quality digital shopping experiences will keep customers coming back for more.

Video is a must because it brings your products to life. You can show your customers how a product should be used or worn. This will help them visualize what it’d be like to own the product and boost confidence. From an SEO perspective, it’s classed as “premium content,” so listings with video will be prioritized in SERPs.

User-generated content

Reviews act as a real-life assurance of the accuracy of your product descriptions (or not, if the case may be). It allows your customers to gain insights from like-minded shoppers, especially if you include things like their age and gender. This will help your customers build a more personal relationship with your products. It also means they can make informed decisions based on honest opinions rather than relying on your marketing copy.

Consider contacting customers post-purchase to ask them to leave a review of the products they ordered. This will also work wonders for your SEO—user-generated content is an important ranking factor, so make the most of it! Another valuable exercise is regularly analyzing reviews and tweaking product copy. This will help ensure you’re genuinely representing your products and reduce the chance of negative reviews.

Informed staff = informed shoppers

Providing a personal touchpoint is an excellent opportunity to build strong relationships with your customers. It’s also essential to give customers the chance to ask any questions before committing to a purchase. Here are some of the things you need to do to make sure you’re delivering a top-notch customer experience:

  • Provide your in-store and online staff with complete and accurate product information. In turn, they’ll be able to keep your customers informed. Easy access to information will also make this process more efficient and cost-effective.
  • An informative and automated customer service function is helpful for new and existing customers. Live Chat, either operated by humans or AI, is underpinned by excellent product information.
  • This extends to your social channels. Make sure whoever is manning your brand’s DMs is as informed as possible to ensure your customers receive the best experience across all touch points.

Take charge of product data quality management

In an ideal world, people would always purchase the right product and never have to return it. But put yourself in your customers’ shoes. People usually return items because there was something they didn’t know, like the size or its appearance in real life. Therefore, ensuring top-quality product data is the key to unlocking lower product returns.

All in all, you must give customers all the knowledge they need to buy confidently. This can be done through your sales team, reviews, and, most importantly, product information and digital assets.

PIM platforms like Pimberly enable you to master product data quality management processes. As such, you know products will only be released with complete and correct details. The integrated digital asset management (DAM) system lets you get the most from all your images and videos.

Need to make changes or update product details? No problem! Bulk updates enable you to do this in minutes, and changes are reflected in real-time across all sales channels. Overall, PIM gives you all the tools and capabilities to deliver the most accurate and up-to-date product information.

Ultimately, the more accurate the product information, the fewer product returns you’ll have to deal with!

Key points: Top tips to reduce return rates

Here are some top tips to reduce product returns for your online business

  • Ensure every product has high-quality images and detailed product information (dimensions, product description, videos, etc).
  • Leverage size guides/fitting tools
  • If a customer leaves a review, reward them for it! Offer them the chance to enter competitions to win products/discounts. Doing so will drive repeat purchase decisions.
  • Get every order correct. Implementing robust inventory and order management solutions will ensure you always get it right.
  • Offer high-quality customer service and feature a live chat or instant messaging tool on your eCommerce website
  • Use high-quality, secure packaging. Remember, broken and damaged items are a crucial reason why people return items,
  • Lengthening your returns policy may seem counter-intuitive. However, the industry-standard 30-day limit creates a sense of urgency. By removing the deadline, customers are more likely to become attached to their product!