Reduce returns by following the strategies listed below. No business likes dealing with returns, but that’s a part of doing business. Amazon has a generous 30-day return policy. And if you handle enough volume on any online marketplace, then chances are you’ve had to deal with returns.
Here are some actions you can take now to reduce the number of returns you receive from Amazon and other online marketplaces. You can implement these strategies and watch your return rate drop.
Make sure your descriptions are accurate
One of the problems with Amazon product listings is that anyone can edit the listings. That means that sellers can jump onto the listing you’ve created and modify the details. If you’re not careful, then the descriptions may no longer match the item you’re shipping. Even a minor detail like the wrong color or size can lead to increased returns.
When creating a new page for a product on Amazon, take the time to create a detailed page with accurate descriptions. Make sure you follow the marketplace policies regarding images and text. Additionally, if you notice that someone edited the product details to include incorrect information, then make sure to email seller support to try to fix the listing. Remember, any mistakes in the pictures or descriptions will lead to higher returns at your cost since customers can choose “Item not as described” and you’ll be out the cost of return shipping.
Some categories are more sensitive to product descriptions than others. For instance, apparel has a very high return rate because customers can’t try on clothing or accessories until they receive them. That’s why for categories like apparel, having an accurate detail page is very important. Failure to create precise and detailed descriptions will lead to sellers losing a lot of money on shipping and fees as a result of returns.
Take a lot of high-quality pictures
Pictures play a significant role in whether or not customers buy your product. Like descriptions, having misleading photos can lead to high return rates. For instance, some merchants like to manipulate the pictures so that the products look bigger than they are. The last thing you want to do is mislead customers, so your images should accurately represent your products.
Include as many pictures as you can to show your products. If you offer a few different variations (colors or sizes, for example), then you should add photos of those differences as well instead of including just one picture. Customers want to be able to see how the product may look in different colors or sizes. Some sellers may skip this step and include a picture of a white mug, but they may offer a blue or orange color as well. Without pictures, customers won’t be able to determine whether the product is the shade of blue or orange they want.
Train your customer service employees
Poorly trained employees can cost businesses in many ways. One of those ways is through higher return rates. Some employees may feel like making the sale is more important than customer satisfaction, but this is not good practice for building customer loyalty. Many customers will remember if they have a negative experience, and they will go out of their way to avoid you in the future. With millions of merchants on Amazon alone, they can easily avoid buying from you.
Ideally, your employees will be familiar with your inventory, but this may not be possible in all cases. If you’re selling automotive parts, then questions about fitment require someone knowledgeable. Technical fields are where the training is essential: what processes are in place that will allow employees to find answers to customer questions? How are employees trained to deal with demanding customers?
Double check orders before shipment
Accurate fulfillment may seem obvious, but if you’re filling a few hundred orders a day, then mistakes will happen. As with the previous advice, one way to mitigate returns is to train employees properly.
Another way to ensure proper picking, packing, and shipping is to have a system in place that employees follow. For example, is there a logical organization for the warehouse? Is there an inventory system in place? Is someone responsible for verifying the shipment before it goes out? Are fragile packages marked and stickered accordingly?
Having an organizational system in place will reduce your returns caused by human error.
One way to remove yourself from customer service and filling orders is to send your items to FBA–this will free up time and Amazon will deal with customers and returns. If you haven’t already looked into FBA, then you should take a few minutes to read up on the service to see if it will fit your needs.
Include a restocking fee for people with buyer’s remorse
No one likes restocking fees, but having a restocking fee policy may help you reduce the number of returns due to buyer’s remorse. You can state that items must be in the same condition when you accept a return. Then you can charge a restocking fee if that isn’t the case. Often, customers will see that it’s not worthwhile to return the item if there is a 20% restocking fee.
However, you should include the restocking fee in your return policy for certain kinds of returns like buyer’s remorse. If you arbitrarily charge restocking fees, you’ll end up with negative feedback even though customers are at fault here. We’ve found that many sellers avoid charging restocking fees precisely because they want to avoid negative feedback.
While you state that you do charge restocking fees, you can also choose not to do so on a case-by-case basis. The flexibility will allow you to better work with your customers.
Ask for customer feedback
If you are getting a large number of returns for an item, then you should ask for feedback regarding the reasons for returns. When you get enough feedback, you can identify the issues and fix them. For instance, customers are returning orders because the color is incorrect or the size doesn’t fit. Feedback will tell you that you need to change the product images and descriptions or even drop the item. More likely than not, unhappy customers will leave feedback on the product, and going through the feedback to address their concerns will result in fewer returns in the future once you’ve worked with your manufacturer to fix those issues.
Asking for feedback will help you polish your product descriptions and reduce future returns. If you want your business to succeed, then you should be reading feedback to see how you can better improve.
No matter how dedicated you are to your business, you’ll never be able to get a 0% refund and return rate. Any buyer can return an item purchased on Amazon within 30 days, so the best you can do is reduce returns by being proactive about your business. If you don’t have the time to deal with returns, then here are some solutions for your returned inventory.