How to Drastically Reduce Ecommerce Returns

ecommerce returns

When it comes to running an online business, one of the biggest headaches is processing ecommerce returns. 

With higher return rates than brick-and-mortar stores (30% or more of all sales), ecommerce companies can be seriously impacted by returned products.

While you can’t completely eliminate ecommerce returns, you can at the least do a few things to mitigate them.

Offer Free (and Easy) Returns

In a world where every ecommerce business competes with Amazon in one way or another, you simply can’t afford not to offer a free and streamlined return process.

In fact, 81% of online shoppers won’t buy from a site if it doesn’t offer free returns.

Yes, this eats into your profit margin, but it also increases revenues because you’ll attract more sales than you would without free ecommerce returns.

Take More Care During Order Fulfillment

A significant number of returns happen because the customer was shipped the wrong order. This is completely remediable; all you have to do is ensure your order fulfillment process is up to snuff.

Using inventory management software can help, as well as properly training your staff to know how to scan a barcode to ensure they’re putting the right product in the customer’s order, rather than just eyeballing the product name.

When you have products that are similar except in color or scent, it can be all too easy to make mistakes without having processes in place.

Invest in Packaging for Shipping

Another leading cause of ecommerce returns is that the product arrives damaged.

In this case, you can’t simply have the item returned and restock it. It’s a lost expense.

Prevent this from being an issue by ensuring that each package that leaves your facility is well wrapped with protective bubble wrap, and that the boxes you ship in are strong and well-taped.

Yes, it will cost a little more to ensure you’re using high-quality shipping products, but in the long run, it is an expense that will save you money.

Also, leverage insurance with your shipping partner; if the damage is their fault, you need to be reimbursed for the expense.

Have Requirements for Returns

If you’ve ever returned a product via Amazon, you know you have to select a reason for the return. If it was of no fault of yours (the product was damaged or the wrong product was sent), returning the product is free.

However, if you simply didn’t like it or ordered the wrong thing, you’ll have to pay return shipping.

Having policies like this in place will both reduce the instances of returns as well as help you recuperate some of the return shipping costs when your finicky customers simply change their minds.

Publish your return policy clearly on your site so that you aren’t constantly battling a dissatisfied customer who doesn’t think she should have to pay the return shipping.

If it’s clearly outlined on your site, she has no recourse. Still, in certain situations, you might just waive the fee to avoid a bigger headache with a customer who will then leave nasty reviews for you online.

Having a strategy to battle against ecommerce returns can help you improve profit margins and reduce the instance of them.

What percent of your overall sales end up as ecommerce returns? How do you try to reduce them?

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan is the president of Egg Marketing & Communications, a content marketing and social media firm. She’s written three business books, and blogs about small business on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

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