How to prevent excessive ecommerce returns: 6 ways

tips  July 9, 2019

As we discussed in one of our previous blog posts, it is necessary for etailers to develop a good return procedure. In addition to developing a good return procedure, etailers can also try to ensure that consumers are less likely to return their ordered product, in order to reduce costs. In this blog post we discuss 6 ways in which excessive ecommerce returns can be prevented.

Excessive returns can lead to extra costs

Prevention is better than cure
Although a good return procedure can attract extra customers, excessive returns can lead to extra costs. This is because etailers have to ensure that the product arrives at the warehouse again. Then the package must be checked and re-packed. It is also necessary that online stores have additional stocks, which means that more products often have to be purchased. Many, especially small, online stores often cannot handle this extra influx. It is therefore important that online stores collect information about the reasons why customers return their ordered products. Etailers can collect this information by, for example, supplying a form with the reasons for the return in the package, which customers must fill in and include in the return shipment. Online stores can then anticipate certain issues and proactively react to prevent further ecommerce returns. Five other ways to prevent these are:

1. An extended return time
It appears that when the consumer gets more time to return the item, this will actually result in fewer return shipments. A decrease of 47% can be observed when extending the return period to one month. An endowment effect can be seen here: the longer someone has a product in his or her possession, the harder it will be for them to send it back. The reason for this is that the person becomes attached to the product. Another explanation lies in the construal level theory. This means that something that seems far away (for example in terms of time) leads to a more abstract processing by the human brain. The other way around is that if something feels close (for example, a shorter return time), people start to think about it more concretely.

2. Allow customers to write product reviews
To prevent the product not meeting the expectations of customers, it is wise for online stores to allow customers to write product reviews. These reviews provide an unbiased insight into the quality and fit of specific products.

3. Offer product videos and good product images
With good high-quality product images, online stores ensure that the reality matches the perception of the product. This causes an increase in the number of products sold and it prevents returns. In addition, product videos can be used to provide further information about the product, which can be used to support the text description.

4. Add sizing solutions to your online store
When it comes to fashion items, offering clear sizing information is essential. This prevents situations where the item doesn’t fit properly. This can be done, for example, by offering tools such as a virtual fitting solution such as Virtusize. These tools use the measurements of previously purchased items to compare sizes. This helps consumers to ensure they are buying items that fit them correctly.

5. Improve packaging
In some cases, a product is returned because it has been delivered damaged. To prevent this, it is important to improve the packaging of products. This will reduce the likelihood of ripping and breakage during transit. Examples of good packaging options that will ensure parcels make it safely to consumers include industrial wrapping tape and double corrugated cardboard. These may not be the cheapest option, but they can save money in the long run by reducing the returns rate and increasing customer confidence.

6. Properly managed warehouse operations
To prevent the consumer from receiving the wrong or damaged item, it is important that warehouse operations are managed properly. For example, regular checks are in place and can be done to make sure that operatives know how to do their job correctly as well the proper categorization of products. Also, innovative initiatives, such as robot picking, will minimise mistakes as well as saving time and costs, long term.

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