8 ways to reduce eCommerce returns

8 ways to reduce eCommerce returns

eCommerce returns can be a significant headache for online merchants. In fact, the overall value of returned merchandise in the United States during the past year was $309 billion.  This can seriously eat into a retailer’s bottom line and be a major logistical nightmare. There are several reasons why online shoppers return items, many of which are out of the online retailer’s control. However, there are certain measures that can be implemented to mitigate the high costs associated with high eCommerce return rates.

Audit your imagery

There’s nothing worse than landing on a site, only to find the product photographs are of poor quality. The photographs on your site are key when driving and informing the consumer’s purchase decisions. In fact, 93% of consumers consider visual appearance to be the key deciding factor in a purchasing decision. If your customers are returning items because they claim products look different to how they looked online, it’s time for an urgent reevaluation of your photographs. Your photographs need to help sell your products not deter potential customers. Showcase your products through high-resolution images, 360-degree angles and implement zoom functionality.

Focus on your descriptions

Vague, poorly written and incorrect descriptions will almost certainly result in a spike in returns.  The more thoroughly you describe a product, the more likely the customer is able to assess if the product is suitable for them. Ensure descriptions are accurate, detailed and consistent. Consider including details like dimensions, weight, material, fit, age range, size, shape, pattern, warranty, design, and any other features you think are important.  If your product descriptions are consistent, the less likely they are to be returned.

Use consumer reviews

Consumer reviews are an important way of helping customers make informed decisions. Firstly, consumer reviews help build an element of trust. Secondly, reviews give shoppers a good understanding of the product’s functionality and usability. Whether it’s an appliance or a new pair of sneakers, understanding another’s experience of the product will help the consumer decide whether or not it’s the right irem for them. As an eCommerce merchant, encourage customer feedback as much as you can to ensure you’re able to provide shoppers with the best experience possible to keep them coming back.

Bring your products to life through video

Videos are an ideal way to bring your products to life and is the next best thing to actually seeing, feeling, and trying out a product. In fact, Google research shows that 55% of consumers use online videos for shopping research. When it comes to clothing, models can show off the item’s fit and movement, giving them a better idea of fit and flow. For home electronics or appliances, videos demonstrate the products in use.

Provide sizing guides

When it comes to apparel and footwear, one of the main reasons for returns is an incorrect fit. Of course, this doesn’t come as a surprise as online shoppers can’t try on clothing or shoes prior to purchase. Shoppers generally purchase the size they typically wear, but certain brands far smaller or larger cuts leading to high return rates.  Eight out 10 returns in fashion eCommerce are linked to size and fit issues. Retailers can reduce size-related returns by incorporating sizing charts, but these aren’t always foolproof.  Many merchants are incorporating state-of-the-art technology to give customers a more accurate idea of fit.  Virtusize helps shoppers choose the right size and fit utilizing digital solutions by enabling them to compare the fit of a garment from a store they’re currently shopping in with a garment they previously purchased from another retailer. Other innovations include 3D body scanners. helping their customers choose the right size and fit. BodyBlock AI, helps brands integrate 3D sizing into its design processes.

Offer real-time support

Live chat provides a platform for eCommerce merchants to communicate with customers in real-time. In addition, you can answer all purchase-related queries instantly. 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live agent while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer. Live chat not only offers the benefit of immediacy, but helps consumers make the right buying decisions, driving down potential returns.

Sharpen up your quality control

Incorrect, damaged or faulty items are one of the primary reasons for customer returns. These mistakes are not only costly but can do significant damage to your reputation, with the chances of the consumer ordering from you again rapidly diminished. Consider bringing in a person or team to conduct quality control (depending on the size of your operation). Take advantage of the various technological innovations out there with an inventory management system that will not only reduce quality control related returns but simplify return logistics processing.

Take a closer look at your packaging

Insufficient packaging is another significant reason for high return rates. In fact, 26% of refunded items are unfit for resale. Packaging protects products during transit. However, packaged wrong and a product will arrive at the customer damaged. This is a completely preventable problem for an eCommerce merchant.  Reexamine both your packaging and handling solutions to try pinpoint the problem, and come up with a solution to ensure your goods are protected during their journey to the end user.


While there will always be returns, an effective eCommerce return strategy can prevent unnecessary returns. Understanding your audience’s behaviour and why they are returning items, can equip you with the necessary information to implement preventative strategies that will drive down return rates, and lower costs, resulting in enhanced levels of customer satisfaction.

For more tips and advice on optimising your eCommerce store, check out our merchant hub.