The 10 commandments of e-commerce returns
E-commerce returns are never pleasant for merchants: they involve an expenditure of time, energy and sometimes extra money.

However, returns are simply an unavoidable aspect of managing an online store. On average, it is estimated that 20% of products ordered online are returned to the sender.

Through these 10 commandments, Sayl Retail gives you the keys to better manage returns.
#1. Free returns, you'll offer
Most shoppers consider that they are more likely to consume if the online merchant offers free returns. 86% of respondents say that the possibility to return purchased items free of charge makes them more loyal and more likely to return to an online merchant.(eCommerce News)

Clearly, the costs of free returns, although they can be difficult to implement, are worth the effort. Thanks to this, you can:
-Attract more customers
-Losing fewer sales
-Set yourself apart from the competition

#2. Detailed descriptions, you'll write
When asked about the reasons for their return, 64% of people indicated that the product did not fit the description. This is therefore crucial to the customer experience.

Descriptions must be clear about the characteristics of a product. So make sure that the person writing your descriptions is familiar with your products. Ideally, they should have tried the product themselves and have it in front of them when they write the description.

You must talk about the product in an attractive way, as if you were selling it in a store, but without exaggerating. Information on technical features is essential for products, different customers will look for different attributes.

We recommend that you explain all the features and benefits of a product as if you were describing it to someone who cannot see it for themselves.
#3.Several nice pictures, you'll post
This may seem obvious, but it is always surprising to observe the number of online shops, which use bad quality images.
On average, it is estimated that poor visuals are responsible for 30% of all online product returns (Shorr).
Beautiful images are the best way to showcase your products. Make sure your image is in an accepted format and follows exact specifications. Non-clothing items generally require images of at least 100 x 100 pixels, while clothing products require images of at least 250 x 250 pixels... but you must use high quality images.

A second mistake often made is to put only one image. Products have many sides, angles and hidden features - the customer must see them all. Providing 360-degree product images is a great way to convey this message in an elegant way, and is especially useful if you are selling a technical item or piece of furniture. You can even include product videos for that extra touch.

Don't neglect images on mobile phones. For the majority of e-commerce sites, mobile phone and tablet traffic is higher than desktop traffic.
#4. The sizes, you'll check
E-commerce has a lot of advantages for consumers, but it has one big weakness: the fitting. Too big/small is one of the main reasons for product returns.

Most of the time, people are confused about the size of the product. They are in doubt until the product arrives, and continue to wonder whether or not it would be suitable for them.

Place size guides on each product page to avoid confusion about product size. Customers want to be sure of the size before confirming their order. Having an adequate sizing guide reduces the possibility of product returns.
#5. Feedback from customers, you'll encourage
Encourage customer comments and feedback to learn more about the products you sell and how they are used in real-life scenarios.

This will help you to identify any potential quality issues regarding either the products you store or the information you provide about them. On the return forms, check the boxes that will help you identify problems, for example if the images are different or if the product looks larger/smaller than expected.

You can then go back to your product lists to see if they can be improved. Offer incentives to increase the number of comments, such as a coupon for the next purchase.
#6. Fast, you'll be
The second essential criterion, after free of charge, is the speed of repayment. Consumers expect the money to be refunded as quickly as possible. Even in a smooth return process, waiting too long to refund a customer can affect brand image. 72% of online customers expect a refund within 5 days of returning the goods (ShipBob, 2020).
#7. Your clients, you'll help
Allow buyers to quickly ask you questions about products in real time. This will improve the conversion rate and prevent customers from ordering items that do not meet their needs.

If the items do not meet the customer's needs, it also gives the customer service team the opportunity to suggest a more appropriate item or a complementary purchase to better meet the customer's needs.

If you offer a live chat to your customers, make sure you inform customer service about your products so that they know what is the best product for the customer. Hold regular team meetings to introduce new products and discuss the feedback you have received on existing products.
#8. Misdeliveries, you'll avoid
A large proportion of online returns are due to incorrect items being sent or products being damaged in transit.

These errors not only cost you time and money to rectify, but they also pose a significant risk to your customers' satisfaction and loyalty. To avoid sending incorrect items, you can adopt a scanner to label the items with a barcode to eliminate the human error factor.
#9. Fraudulent users, you'll track down
Let be clear: most online consumers are well-intentioned. However, there is a minority of fraudulent users, you take advantage of the lenient return rules to make a profit.
There are 3 main fraudulent behaviors:
  • Customers purchase items with the intention of using them and returning them for their full value (wardrobing).
  • The customer claims that he did not receive an order.
  • The customer buys a new product to replace an identical product that is old or damaged (swapping).

There are no quick fixes, but you can limit these behaviours by tracking down suspicious behaviour. As soon as you have detected a fraudulent user, do not hesitate to block him from your online shop.
#10. A clear and concise return policy, you'll have
Finally, there is nothing better than having a clear and concise return policy to be protected to the maximum. You can create your own return policy, or use our Sayl Retail template (by clicking on this link).

In an ideal world, all your customers would be satisfied with every product you deliver to them. Unfortunately, returns are inevitable even when you're super efficient.
By following these 10 commandments, you can turn the return process into a positive experience.
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