How to reduce ecommerce return rates?

tips  July 5, 2018

With the continued growth of the ecommerce sector, the number of returns also continues to grow. It is estimated that one-third of all online purchases are returned. This creates costs for etailers and puts extra pressure on the environment. How can you reduce your return rates as an etailer? Let’s have a look at the following tips.

Stop offering free returns and free shipping
By offering free returns and shipping, the consumer’s purchase process is made less risky. This can result in extra customers, but there is a big chance that these customers will turn into returners1. If you choose to offer free returns, make sure that you provide the consumer with ready-to-use shipping labels. With larger volumes, you can include the price in the negotiations with your carrier.

The longer someone has a product in his or her possession, the harder it will be for them to send it back

Extend the return time
When the consumer gets more return time, this results in fewer return shipments. A decrease of 47% can be observed for the stretching of the return time to one month[1]. 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.

Provide good product images
With good product images of high quality you ensure that the reality matches the actual product. This causes an increase in the number of products sold, but also to prevent returns. In addition, it is important to pay attention to the way model photos are used[2]. Model photos should serve as an addition to and not as a replacement for product photos. As a result, both the actual information about the product and the impression given with the model photo are shown and consumers can decide whether the product suits them. The model must also match the target group. The model must also connect with the target group to prevent mismatches.

[1] Logistiek (2018) Langere retourtijd reduceert retouren.
[2] Exposar (2017) 3 Hacks om retouren te verlagen.
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