Returns are a problem for all retail businesses, but for online shops where the buyer can’t see or handle the item before they purchase the chance of them sending something back for a refund is particularly high. Often the return postage costs, or the item not being sent back in a resalable condition, means that returns can add up to a substantial loss for your business.
As an online shop you have to offer at least a 14 day return policy, but there are a number of simple things you can do to minimise the number of people returning items to your online shop.
1. Returns feedback
Anytime a customer returns an item make sure you find out why they’re sending it back. If the product arrives damaged you either need to check more thoroughly before you send it out, package it better, or consider changing couriers. If the product is poor quality or substantially different from what the customer was expecting then you need to improve the description and photos, or maybe even stop selling it.
2. Improve your product descriptions
Product descriptions need to include every detail about the item so that your customers know exactly what it is they’re buying. The more detailed and specific your description is, the less likely they’ll be disappointed when the product arrives because they were expecting it to be different.
Include exact measurements of your products, and if you’re selling clothing then a sizing guide will help buyers work out whether it will fit. Poor fit is the main return reason for clothes bought online, so if you have models wearing your clothes then give information about their height and the size they’re wearing.
3. Product reviews
Product reviews will allow potential buyers to read honest opinions about the item they’re buying. They’ll also help buyers understand the product and how it might fit into their life. People are much more likely to buy something that another shopper has recommended, and they’ll have a better understanding of whether the product is suited to them. Find out more about product reviews here.
4. Take better product photos
Use your product photos to show exactly what the item looks like; you need clear photos from every angle. If you’re selling second-hand or vintage items, include pictures of any damage or signs of wear. You can also try using product videos to give the customer a better insight into whether the product is suitable for them.
5. Make it easy for customers to contact you
Customer service isn’t just important for when things go wrong, if potential customers are able to get in touch to ask questions before they buy, it’ll give them confidence in what they’re purchasing. Make sure you have a phone number or email address that’s easy to find on your website. If you can answer questions about how suitable an item is, or whether it will arrive in time, then the customer is more likely to buy and less likely to return products.
6. Learn from frequently asked questions
If you keep getting asked the same questions about a product then you need to update the product descriptions. It’s probably information that a lot of customers are wondering about, and it’ll reduce returns from those that didn’t ask before they bought it. You’ll also reduce the time you spend answering the same questions.
There’s no way to stop customers returning items to your online shop altogether, but following these steps will keep the number of returns down. When you do get customers that want to send something back find out how you can impress them with your returns process here.