Guide to improve customer experience in eCommerce for reducing order returns

Guide-to-improve-customer-experience-in-eCommerce-for-reducing-order-returns
  • 26 Jul 2023

Returning products is a feature available across most online shopping platforms, and unfortunately, one that’s used very frequently. 

Statistics show that 20.8% of all the merchandise ordered by online shoppers in 2021 ended up being returned. If you add up the data across all eCommerce businesses, that’s merchandise worth USD 761 billion getting sold without generating any revenue. However, the lost revenue isn’t the biggest problem – it’s the fact that many customers who return goods take their business elsewhere. This is because poor customer support is the main reason behind returned goods. 

This article will guide you on how to reduce product returns by delivering a better customer experience.

Why do customers return products?

Before you can work towards reducing product returns, you need to understand why customers return products in the first place. The most common reasons behind eCommerce product returns include:

  •       The customer received the wrong product.
  •       Product failing to match its description or meet the customer’s expectations.
  •       Items arriving in a damaged state.
  •       Delayed delivery to the point where the customer no longer needs the product.
  •       Customers not intending to keep the product at all in the first place and returning it after use.

Why do eCommerce businesses need to work towards reducing product returns?

The problem of returned goods isn’t as simple as it seems. Apart from the lost revenue and the chance of losing customers, product returns incur additional costs too. E-Commerce stores lose out an extra 33 US dollars to process the return of a USD 50 item on average. With the increasing supply chain costs and complexities, this is likely to rise.

10 strategies to reduce product returns through better CX

Reducing product returns starts with offering high-quality products that meet customer expectations, but that alone isn’t enough. You also need to improve their overall experience, and here are 10 ways to go about it.

  1.     Work on better product descriptions

As mentioned earlier, inaccurate product descriptions are one of the leading reasons behind product returns. Unlike when shopping from brick-and-mortar stores, online shoppers cannot examine the products themselves before purchasing. They rely on product descriptions to decide which product is the best for them. Make sure to provide detailed product descriptions with accurate information for every item.

  1.     Provide detailed and high-quality photos

Alongside product descriptions, you can also use product pictures to inform customers of its features, specs, and intended use. This can significantly reduce the chances of misunderstanding, and in turn, help your business avoid product returns.

  1.     Promote product exchanges

While the option to exchange products rather than return them is usually available, it’s up to you to convince your customers to choose the former. You may make some changes to your return process to incorporate a system where customers have to chat with customer service before the return is authorized. The customer support agent can try to convince customers through carefully crafted messages. Although many businesses promote exchanges by offering store credit rather than refunding returned products directly, this might displease the customers.

  1.     Provide adequate packaging

Customers receiving damaged products would not only return them, but may also leave poor reviews and buy from a different online store. An eCommerce business should never skimp on the packaging, especially when shipping fragile products or goods that are prone to damage. Investing in some extra padding can go a long way in protecting your sales and building customer loyalty.

  1.     Identify and ban serial returners

Not all product returns are the fault of the business – there are dishonest customers who abuse the return policies too. Known as wardrobing, this practice involves buying a product online, using it for a short while, and returning them for a full refund. To address this issue, you first need to identify serial returners by building a database on product returns and analyzing the data. You may then ban such customers from shopping from your website in the future.

  1.     Offer gift cards and loyalty points

Let’s face it – you cannot eliminate product returns entirely, and there will be customers who will return products regardless of how hard you try. You may offer them store gift cards or loyalty points of greater value than a direct refund. This will get them to shop again from you again and grant you a shot at regaining their trust. When customers chat with customer service agents before a refund, the latter can also offer them such incentives to promote exchanges.

  1.     Extend the return period

This might seem an odd way to reduce product returns, but it works. When the window to return products is very short, customers feel rushed and often make a hasty decision to return a product. However, extending the length of the return policy allows them to use the product for a while before they decide whether to return or keep the product.

  1.     Ensure post-sales assistance

Customers are more likely to remain loyal and even consider product exchanges over returns when they enjoy a good post-purchase experience. Allow them to chat with customer service regarding products they have purchased and address their questions properly. You may incorporate a self-service automation system that helps customers with guides and articles on using a product.

  1.     Improve shipping and delivery

Delays in shipping often result in customers receiving a product when they don’t need it anymore, causing them to return it. Timely deliveries will not only help prevent such product returns, but would give your business a better reputation too. You also need to work on the accuracy of fulfillment – customers should receive exactly what they ordered.

  1. Make use of the reviews

Online shoppers usually check out product reviews before buying a product. Detailed and well-written reviews can provide them with additional insights. You may leverage such reviews to help your customers make the right purchase. An eCommerce business can put the most detailed reviews at the top or even allow customers to filter the reviews using relevant keywords.

Centralize and automate your customer support

As you can see, poor customer experience can cost your business significantly in the form of product returns. You may improve your customer support by using a central customer service platform, that would help your customers get their issues resolved quickly. You may even integrate your customer support service platform with your product returns management software for better results. These modern tools can help you reduce product returns significantly.

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