Returns are usually a major headache to online retailers. Not only are they extra hassle for businesses to deal with, they affect your profit margins, take up extra resources and staff, and you run the risk of items not easily being resold. It’s inevitable that businesses will see customers returning their items, especially as online shoppers have additional rights to returns and refunds.
Whilst returns rates for stores are around 8%, the average return rate for online stores jumps up to 25% – although this can be even higher depending on the type of product or sector.
See below a chart showing the most frequently returned online products in the UK by type/category:
When it comes to improving your returns rate, you need to understand where you’re positioned compared to the rest of the market. If your rate of return is higher than the average for your product type, then you need to take a closer look at your business to determine what might be causing this.
Product returns and exchanges may seem like an uncontrollable element of business, but what many don’t understand is that retailers have the power to reduce the magnitude of their customers’ returns. The quicker you understand this and address the main reasons for returns, the faster you can reduce your E-commerce return rate.
Ways to reduce online returns and maximise customer repurchase
1. Make sure the right product is being delivered, and safely
It may be surprising to hear that nearly 25% of E-commerce returns are due to incorrect items being delivered, and an additional 20% are because they become damaged during the packaging and delivery process. Do you regularly receive these types of returns? If so, you need to review the people, technology and processes you use within your business. These sort of mistakes should not happen, especially with the availability of specialist fulfilment solutions such as UFS. We use a cloud-based software system to track orders and stock, use safe and secure packaging elements and top-quality delivery & shipping solutions to ensure these kinds of mistakes are minimised.
2. Are your products good quality?
It may be the product themselves letting your business down. If your items are made poorly to begin with, then it’s likely that people are going to send it back for a refund once they receive and inspect it. It’s important to understand that quality should be one of your top priorities when it comes to the manufacture of your products, so if you’re cutting corners to cut costs, you might want to reevaluate your business model.
3. Track data on reasons for return
It can be really useful to ask your customers what the reason for their return is, so you can identify the main reasons and address them internally. It might be an issue to bring up with your suppliers, your marketing team, the sizing, or even down to your featured product photography on the website. You can opt for this information to be included on the parcel paper return slips, or through an online form which can be filled in before generating a postage return label.
Reasons for returns may be one of the following:
- Sizing is incorrect
- Looks different to image on site
- Ordered more than one size to try
- Poor quality
- Incorrect item received
- Changed their mind or simply doesn’t suit them
At UFS, we integrate our processes with your in-house systems to support your inventory management, which includes tracking all the data from the return. This means we can manage the return from your customers and let you know the reason codes for quality and research purposes.
4. Provide a quick and efficient returns process
Importantly, making sure you have an easy and quick returns process can really be the difference between a lost customer and a returning one. 82% of customers do not make another purchase if an online store has a difficult returns process, and 9 in 10 people say that they would repurchase from a business if the returns process is easy. That’s where we can help.
At UK Fulfilment Service, we manage and handle your E-commerce fulfillment including returns, creating a seamless customer experience that not only aids profitability but also maintains your brand reputation. Our approach is to make sure that we offer a quick and efficient process which sees customers either refunded or exchanged as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Find out more about our Returns Management services.