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Top 10 tips for handling and minimising online returns

By Mikaela Andersson

As part of your life as a retailer, you will at times have customers returning their ordered goods. Why does it happen and can you do anything about it?

We have listed our top 10 tips of what you can do to minimise the risk of customers returning their goods.

Pre-Sale

  • Ensure that you have clear product descriptions. Many returns occur as a result of disappointment with the product. Accurate descriptions and clear photos (with videos where appropriate) can help you to reduce your returns volume.
  • Make your returns policy clear. Use plain English and ensure it’s easy to understand. No-one wants to wade through paragraphs to understand the impact on them.
  • Don’t ask customers to hunt for your returns policy. Make it highly visible on your website, even on product pages, as well as on customer correspondence so that it’s easy for customers to find and review.
  • Don’t hide your return costs and ideally make them free. No-one expects to be hit by surprise costs and free returns can mean returners become repeat customers.
  • Offer free home trials if appropriate. This is an ideal way for a customer to trial a product with no obligation, especially for big ticket purchases.

Post-Sale

  • Don’t quibble. Remember, acquiring a customer is an expensive business and it’s easier to retain one.
  • Include clear returns instructions. Ensure that instructions go with each package and include all the materials a customer needs to return their item so that there are no mistakes.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Let your customers know in detail the progress of their return and do this proactively. This will reduce the volume of calls/emails you receive in addition to delivering a strong customer experience.
  • Provide a variety of channels for returns. Ideally allow local store returns, even if the item has been purchased online.
  • Solicit customer feedback and use it on your site. Customer reviews, for example, can be an ideal way in which to highlight issues or for potential customers to identify which product is best for their needs.

Returns are an unavoidable part of e-commerce retailing. However, following our key tips will ensure that you minimise the revenue hit they can create and maximise the time you can spend on developing products and driving your business forward.