16 ways to prevent returns for ecommerce company's

16 ways to prevent parcel returns in ecommerce

Parcel returns. Every e-commerce company has to deal with returns. In Europe customers have the right to withdraw an order up to 14 days after the parcel arrived at the customer. Returns cost a lot of money for e-tailers. 

Below you find 16 ways to reduce your return percentage.

  • Make use of "product" reviews and user generated content (UGC). Experiences and pictures/video's from others will help meeting expectations from your customers and will reduce returns.
  • Use High Resolution product images. If you have a "living" product (f.e. plants) be clear about the product that people receive and how it looks like when it is mature. This can be done by images but in the case of plants with "time lapse" video's. 
  • It depends at your competition and long term strategy, but you can charge (shipment costs) for returning ordered goods. Especially for Europe, mention this in your terms and conditions. Be clear about it. Otherwise the customer does not have to pay for the return of his parcel.
  • Make sure you offer multiple prepaid payment methods. Offering post paid payment methods causes higher return rates. Especially cost on delivery. People can easily refuse the package when the mailmen arrives.
  • Be clear at your website about your guarantee conditions.
  • Setup an interactive return process at the website. Let people register their returns first. Do this by making a simple process, but do ask some questions about the reason of the returns. Be able to change this process. If you know why they return, depending at the product you sell, you can prevent them from returning, by giving the right advice in this process.
  • Disable/Remove customers who always return and never keep an article. 
  • Be very clear about your delivery and order process both at your website and your after sales communication. Better sent an extra e-mail about the order status then one less.
  • Make sure you deliver fast. People expect fast delivery for most consumer goods. 
  • Make sure you offer multiple postal services. Many countries for example have popular pickup spots (droppoints) that are used for distance selling. Make sure you offer the most popular methods in each country.
  • Make the "unboxing" a surprise and fun. And if you sell a difficult (technical) product, be clear in the parcel about how to set up the product and how to use it. Clear directions for customer service also might help. 
  • Customer Service Agent. The customer service agent is a "gatekeeper" for reducing returns and customer satisfaction. Be sure your customer service instructions/scripts help reducing returns but also keep customer satisfaction. The customer that returns now, must order next time again with you.
  • Use the "internet of things" if possible for the product you sell, to improve customer satisfaction. If the devices you sell can connect to the internet, you can give tailor made advice and help. This also prevents returns.
  • Use Augmented Reality to show how the product looks like in your home, or when you wear it.
  • When a customer returned a parcel and the payment is reimbursed, make sure you have a good after sales communication strategy, so you can keep the customer and prevent the next return.
  • Expand your content and product attributes, you sent to external marketplaces. 
  • Invest in CRM and Personalisation tools. If you know what your customer wants, based at order, click or conversation history for example, you prevent returns because of your tailor made offers.

Remember: Trustworthiness + Expertise = Credibility = E-commerce Success = Less Returns.

A fair, clear and transparent return process helps your trustworthiness and this helps your ecommerce success.


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