How to Minimise E-commerce Returns – 5 Key Questions

21 May, 2020

E-Commerce Returns

What is the true rate of online returns around the world?

It’s impossible to say, with one source claiming it can be up to 40%, while another study states the real figure is a staggering 66%. One thing is for certain though: with the unstoppable rise of international e-commerce, online retailers are dealing with a large volume of customer returns!

Global shopping habits are changing, and businesses need to be smart, agile, and efficient to succeed. If you’re not sure your returns rate is as low as it can be, here are 5 questions to ask yourself which will help you protect your profits and keep customers happy.

  • Do I have a strong returns policy & process?

    Having an efficient international returns policy has numerous benefits, from helping you achieve your growth goals to providing additional value to customers. It’s vital to create a solid policy that strikes the right balance between customer care and protecting your business. If it’s too strict, it will drive customers away; if it’s too generous, you will drown in returns! Most customers simply want a clear, visible, and fair returns policy. Shipping internationally? Don’t forget the importance of an easy and reliable cross-border returns management program to give shoppers in other countries the confidence to purchase from your online store.
  • How accurately are my products depicted?

    How often are goods returned because they’re not what the customer was expecting? While it’s true that products need to be made as attractive as possible for the best chance of purchase, this must be done in a realistic way. Product descriptions should be both well-written and truthful, while images must be faithful representations. Managing shoppers’ expectations will not only help you avoid unnecessary returns, but will also improve your chances of gaining repeat business as disappointed customers may be reluctant to come back.
  • Can I create a community from my customer base?

    Your customers may come from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common: they all shop with your brand! Think about how you can create a sense of community among them, such as incorporating reviews on your site so they can share feedback with each other. This community will help shoppers make better purchasing decisions while ultimately reducing your returns rates. You can also inspire community spirit through your social media. If you are responsive and demonstrate genuine customer care, loyalty will increase while returns decrease.
  • How good is my customer service?

    You can reduce returns by improving your aftersales process. Excellent customer service helps avoid unnecessary returns by resolving issues on the spot. Is the item really defective? Would the customer be happy to keep it with a discount or gift voucher? Would it be more cost-effective to just write off the product and refund the customer? Great customer service is about solving problems fully while keeping an eye on your bottom line.
  • Do I provide affordable shipping and reliable delivery?

    For every impulse buyer, there is a practical shopper who needs an item for something specific. Whether it’s for a big event, a birthday, or a holiday, they will need the goods by a certain time – no excuses. Provide reliable delivery and ensure the item will arrive when you say it will, so that customers know they’re in safe hands when they shop with your brand. Late deliveries can result in unnecessary returns when shoppers have made other arrangements to acquire the needed items elsewhere. In other cases, shoppers may not be in a hurry for their purchases and may be more than happy to select a slightly longer transit time for their shipment at a significantly lower shipping rate. Offering a variety of shipping options to provide the shopper with choice helps to minimize the frequency of returns. When your shipping options are straightforward, shoppers understand that their shipment may take longer in exchange for a more favourable shipping rate, so they’re less likely to refuse or return a shipment that took a little extra time to be delivered.


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