As an ecommerce business owner, you’ll know that dealing with returns can be a costly and time-consuming process — and that’s without mentioning the impact frequent returns can have on the environment. 

Reducing the number of customer returns you receive will not only save your business money, but it’ll also increase your operational efficiency and help to reduce your overall carbon footprint. 

The good news is there are several ways to reduce ecommerce returns, improve your bottom line, increase customer satisfaction, and create less admin for you.

Are your returns steadily increasing? Here’s how to curb them before they spiral out of control.

5 ways of reducing your ecommerce returns

1. Provide first-class customer service

Did you know that improving your customer service can actually help reduce the number of returns in your ecommerce business? Many items are returned because customers simply didn’t have all the information they needed before purchasing. However, by communicating more effectively with your customers and addressing their needs swiftly, you can help them make better-informed decisions and reduce the likelihood of returns.

Using a live chat Shopify integration, for example, you can run an efficient ecommerce helpdesk through one central platform, enabling you to manage all customer interactions quickly and efficiently while providing helpful information. The most important thing is to offer your customers a number of channels through which to contact you — including phone, email, and live chat — so that if they do have a product-related query, they’re able to find a swift solution.

2. Optimize your product descriptions and images

Did you know that 22% of customers return items because they were effectively “catfished” by the product? That means the item looked completely different when they received it in the post than it did online. There’s nothing worse than eagerly waiting for a package to arrive, only to be let down when you finally get your hands on it. Not only is it a frustrating experience for the customer, but it can be damaging to your reputation and increase returns.

To resolve this, make your product descriptions as in-depth and accurate as possible. When customers know exactly what to expect from the product they’re purchasing, the odds of them being dissatisfied or unpleasantly surprised when it arrives are much lower. You should also take high-quality product photos to ensure that your product is accurately represented on your website, reducing the likelihood that the customer will be disappointed.

3. Update your returns policy

It’s not something that many businesses consider, but having a poorly-constructed returns policy could actually be costing you money. For example, let’s say your policy only allows for returns within two weeks of purchase. This might seem reasonable, but what if your customer doesn’t have time to try out the product until the third week? Or what if they need more time to decide whether or not they want to keep it?

By being more flexible with your returns policy, you can create a more unique shopping experience for your customers. Consider offering a longer return period, or even a satisfaction guarantee that allows customers to return an item at any time if they’re not completely happy with it. By increasing flexibility and giving your customers more freedom over returns, you may actually find that you generate fewer returns overall.

4. Encourage more customer reviews

Of course, customer reviews play an essential role in ecommerce for a number of reasons: they help drive conversion, they can aid you in understanding customer needs and identifying areas for improvement, and they help to establish brand credibility through social proof. But encouraging your customers to leave reviews after purchasing one of your products can also play a role in bringing down your return rate.

Online consumers trust the views and opinions of others — the vast majority trust reviews over ads, in fact — and your product reviews provide important information to prospective buyers from the perspective of someone who’s actually used the product. This information helps to provide a fuller picture of how the product functions in the real world, as well as how it will benefit the customer, ultimately reducing returns by setting clearer customer expectations.

5. Improve the quality of your packaging

Receiving a damaged product is another common reason why online shoppers make returns. While good quality control can ensure that a broken or damaged product doesn’t leave your warehouse, there’s only so much you can do to prevent a product from becoming damaged en route to the customer — particularly when at the mercy of a third-party logistics provider.

One issue might be that your packaging simply isn’t keeping your products sufficiently protected, particularly if you have products that are fragile or prone to damage, such as glassware or ceramics. Consider upgrading your packaging to reduce the risk of damage during transit, which could cause excessive returns and leave you with unusable stock.

Having a high returns rate can be hard for an ecommerce store to deal with, but a few simple changes can make all the difference. Incorporate these 5 tips into your strategy and you may find that you receive fewer returns, saving you money, increasing efficiency, and reducing your environmental impact.