The eCommerce boom of 2020 also means a surge in returns. UPS Forecasts is expecting to see a 23% increase over last year. Returns are inevitable. However, by analyzing your industry and product, reducing the amount of returns is possible.

Returns are heavily based on industry and type of product. It is less likely for food or household items to be returned. On the other hand, it is more likely that apparel, accessories, and similar-type items will be returned. Herein lies the issue for merchandisers operating in those industries.

Let’s take a look at a couple of ways to prevent returns or reduce the number of returns your company is receiving.

Detailed and Accurate Product Descriptions

The product description for your item is an extremely important component to the listing. A detailed listing offers the potential customer all of the features and specifics needed to make the buying decision.

If you are a clothing merchandiser, one of the most common reasons for returns is the fit of the item. Although you cannot solve all of these issues with a description, it can help. In addition, elements like a fitting and size tool are essential. Clearly and specifically describing your product and offering tools to help with sizing will reduce the returns for things like fit, color, material, and quality.

To take your product listing up a notch, add an FAQ section with a few commonly asked questions. This can assist customers in making their decision and alleviate the need to make returns.

Customer Reviews

Honest reviews of your product by real customers are crucial in an e-commerce world. They might even be your best defense against returns. It is no secret that potential customers are much more likely to trust the word of a purchaser than the company itself.

You can offer a reward to entice past customers to leave a product review. This reward could be a small discount or entry into a raffle. You will be much more likely to receive a review with an incentive. This small incentive’s cost will be well worth it for a large quantity of quality reviews. Encourage those customers to leave reviews with photos or even videos.

Customer Service

An opportunity to answer customer questions, complaints, or issues is a preventative measure through proactive customer service. Simple options can be put in place such as email or phone. More advanced options like text messaging or live chat are robust service offerings that provide extreme ease of use for customers and real-time help, reducing the possibility of needing to return. 

A strong customer service offering provides customers with the confidence in your company—the confidence that you will right a wrong and/or work with the customer to come to a solution. Building this trust creates repeat customers, and less of a need to return items.

What Next?

Merchandisers need to understand the many reasons that consumers make returns, and specifically, why their customers make returns. Receiving and analyzing this data should be your first step. Once you have the main sources you can then begin working towards minimizing returns.

If you are just starting out, make sure to implement the aforementioned tactics. Returns harm profit margins, and therefore overall company profits. 

There are many returns that you cannot prevent. Learn from your data to implement fixes to what you can prevent.