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The Costs of E-commerce Returns and How to keep them to a Minimum

man and women working for a delivery comapny

03/04/2023 | Share:

Returns are an unavoidable part of any e-commerce business. Depending on the sector, return rates typically range from 10% to 30%. Returns cause a huge headache for businesses because they’re not only expensive but time-consuming as well. With returns, products must be restocked or discarded and customers must be refunded or credited with a store voucher. All of these processes cost businesses both time and money, so it’s important to keep returns to a minimum.

Here we look at some tried and tested ways to reduce customer returns and help save you time and money.

Getting the right product

The first step in keeping e-commerce returns low is to ensure that customers are purchasing the right item in the first place.


Man holding a camera These should be high quality showing the product from a variety of angles. This is important to ensure customers know exactly what they’re getting, so if it’s not quite right, they can make an informed decision about whether or not to purchase. Don’t be tempted to alter photos to make items look more desirable, as this may lead to customer disappointment and ultimately more returns.

Colours can be difficult as they often look different on various devices. This is especially true with clothing items where the colour may not match a customer’s expectations. You can help to avoid this problem by clearly indicating the true-to-life colour of an item in its description. Give them a reference point that they will recognise like Sky Blue or Sage Green so they know what to expect.

Size Charts and Dimensions

empty box of various sizesFor clothing, size charts are another great way to prevent returns. By having accurate sizing and measurements displayed including trouser and skirt length lengths, customers can make sure the product is going to fit them before purchase. If you are using photos of models for the clothes it is also useful to add their height and other measurements so buyers get a better idea of how it will look on them.

For other items such as furniture, and even pieces of artwork, jewellery, etc. accurate dimensions should be included in the product description. Again don’t try to fool customers by making something look bigger than it is, for instance. This is only going to backfire on you in the long run and also can affect your credibility and trustworthiness.

Product Descriptions

Product descriptions need to be accurate and detailed. Customers should be able to get a good idea of what they’re buying without having to guess. If something isn’t quite right when it arrives, they can make a quick decision as to whether or not they want to keep it so it is important to provide detailed and accurate descriptions of your products, including any limitations.

Electrical goods need information such as compatibility with other hardware or software.

Clothes should provide information on materials and fit.

Providing customers with as much information about the products they’re purchasing can help to reduce returns and save your business both time and money. By making sure product photos are accurate, sizes are correct and descriptions are detailed, customers can make informed decisions about their purchases and be less likely to return them. Overall this will lead to happier customers and an increase in customer satisfaction.

Return Policy

Having a clear and comprehensive return policy on your website also helps prevent returns. This should include details such as acceptable reasons for returning items, time limits for returns, and what happens once a return is accepted (i.e., store credit or refund). Making sure customers know exactly what to expect if they need to return something can help avoid any confusion and also reduce the amount of customer service calls you may receive.

Damaged Goods

Another reason for returns and complaints is when products arrive damaged. This can happen for a number of reasons including poor packaging, handling by the delivery service, or simply bad luck. 

Damaged boxTo reduce the chances of this happening make sure you are using adequate packaging to protect your items and also check any shipments before they leave so you know they’re in good condition. If something does arrive damaged, having a clear policy in place on what to do will help customers get their money back quickly and easily.

With the right packaging and proper care, you can reduce your returns and increase customer satisfaction. The Ogden Fulfilment team have decades of experience in pick-and-pack, order fulfilment and storage and can help you choose the right packaging for your product. We also deal with returns and restocking and can help you implement a policy that works for your business. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.

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