How to minimize the number of returns in your online store?

Returns can be a major headache for any online business, affecting profitability and customer satisfaction.

However, implementing the right strategies and best practices can significantly reduce return rates and create a more positive customer shopping experience.

In this article, we’ll explore the context, various tips, and solutions to help you reduce your return rate on international marketplaces and improve your performance.

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Importance of returns for online shoppers

To fully take advantage of selling on international marketplaces, it’s crucial to curate your product portfolio adequately. However, you also need to consider how to handle it. In other words, offer a localized shopping experience with dependable returns. Why?

Because the customer experience does not necessarily end when the order is delivered, returns are critical to customer satisfaction. They offer consumers confidence in their purchase decisions and enhance their overall shopping experience.

Did you know that…?

According to Statista, the most returned categories are:

  • Clothing: 25%
  • Bags / accessories / shoes: 18%
  • Food and beverages 13%
  • Consumer electronics: 12%

What is the scope of returns in ecommerce?

Returns in the context of ecommerce refer to the process where customers return products they have purchased to the seller or the platform from which they made the purchase.

There are two types of returns:

  • Remorse returns, covered by the seller’s or marketplace’s return policies.
  • Returns caused by seller error (such as incorrect or broken items, missing accessories, orders delivered later than promised).

Remorse returns are an essential aspect of the consumer buying journey, allowing customers to exercise their right to send back a product for various reasons, such as:

  • dissatisfaction,
  • wrong fit,
  • or a change of mind.

While the buyer is often required to cover the cost of sending such items back, we recommend a more buyer-friendly approach and advocate investing in free remorse returns. Sellers who offer up-front to pay for the return shipment foster buyer confidence and ultimately, increase their sales.

Can ecommerce returns be easy and free?

International marketplace sellers should focus on removing barriers that may prevent the customer from making a purchase. And a complicated return process can be one of them.

Nowadays, easy and free returns are a must for most buyers and can influence their shopping decisions. In fact:

As 2022 Cross-Border Commerce Europe reports:

Most popular concerns when ordering something online across borders: delivery speed, incorrectly delivered goods, damaged items, and the return policy.

And according to research, 67% of shoppers review the merchant’s returns policy before making a purchase. If customers have concerns about returning unwanted products in a hassle-free manner, this becomes a major barrier to ordering from your online store.

Most customers will likely make repeat purchases from sellers who offer hassle-free returns, so it’s worth providing that option.

stats ecommerce returns 17

However, returns can be a logistical challenge for sellers. Nonetheless, implementing efficient and customer-friendly return processes is vital to maintaining trust, boosting sales conversion rates, and fostering long-term customer relationships.

Returns on international marketplaces

Delivery logistics can pose challenges, especially for sellers operating in multiple regions. Global returns may involve complex customs requirements and additional costs.

By prioritizing the customer experience throughout the shipping, delivery, and returns process, sellers can build a loyal customer base and increase sales over the long term.

Logistic challenges can be streamlined. How? By:

  • Partnering with multiple carriers to provide the best shipping rates and return options, or
  • Choosing one third-party solution provider who will integrate shipping and returns management to simplify the process for customers and sellers alike.

You can use third-party solutions for the entirety of your operations or just for one aspect you struggle with. But often, a holistic approach is the most profitable.

It’s usually a small investment that can help save time, reduce workload, and navigate the local market, tax, and customs laws. Ultimately, the end goal of deploying such solutions is to enable you to increase your revenue.

The importance of minimizing your returns rate

Providing returns to customers is essential. However, minimizing returns is crucial for the growth and sustainability of your online business.

Ecommerce stat
According to a report from ZigZag, January 2024 brought a record-high wave of returns; it cited 42% more returns from British online shoppers on January 1 and 2 than the year before. Most of them were probably returning Christmas gifts.

By reducing the number of items returned, you can save on shipping and restocking costs and inventory management.

Sure, some customers return items simply because they changed their minds. There is no way to expect or prevent that, but understanding the most common reasons for returns can help you address them proactively and prevent those cases.

The most popular reasons for returns in ecommerce

  • Misleading product descriptions: When product descriptions don’t match the actual item received, returns are likely.
  • Size and fit issues: Incorrect sizing information, size conversion, and fit description.
  • Late deliveries: Delivery delays can prompt customers to return items.

Unsatisfactory quality: If the product doesn’t meet customer expectations, it might be returned.

Did you know that…?

Amazon has recently started flagging certain products with a “Frequently returned” tag to encourage consumers to learn more about the item before buying it.

“We’re currently showing return rate information on some product detail pages to help our customers make more informed purchase decisions,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

Strategies to reduce returns in your online store

Let’s explore actionable strategies to tackle the unnecessary return issue effectively.

#1 Provide accurate and detailed product information

Clear and comprehensive product descriptions are essential to set the right expectations for your customers.

Provide a clear description of each item. Add details about its features (measurements, dimensions, color, specific characteristics, item condition, etc.) and explain how to use it.

The buyer must know exactly what they’re going to get.

face mask ecommerce categorry mapping#2 Provide accurate translations

Make sure to translate product descriptions properly and accurately. Better yet, localized.

Product localization, typical in ecommerce, involves adapting or modifying a product or service for a given language, culture, or region. It involves much more than translation. The objective is to provide international buyers with an online shopping experience indistinguishable from their average native experience. This way, merchants can compete with local competitors on a level playing field.

Ecommerce-optimized machine translation is an efficient, effective, affordable alternative to human translation. It differs from standard machine translation as it’s built and explicitly trained for ecommerce products. It understands the notion of products, attributes, categories, and context in a way standard machine translation cannot.

#3 Implement a user-friendly size guide

Sizes are standard for products from the fashion category, e.g., shoes, accessories, or dresses, but also for various objects, such as figurines or car parts. Different countries, manufacturers, and individual sellers can use various metric systems. Thus, we need conversion charts indicating relations between sizes.

global ecommerce dimension conversion clock

Create a user-friendly size guide that helps customers choose the correct size based on their measurements. Make sure the translations are accurate.

Another example? If you’re a British merchant selling shoes in France, size variations UK 7, UK 8, UK 9, and UK 10 won’t be translated by Google into FR 41, FR 42, etc. If French buyers are confused by unfamiliar sizes, they’ll probably abandon the shopping cart.

international ecommerce conversion charts

Did you know that…?

In December 2023 Amazon provided fashion brands with a tool helping customers determine the fit of apparel and shoes, in an effort to reduce returns.

The tool, called Fit Insights, uses AI and machine learning technology to help meet customer sizing expectations.

#4 Provide good quality, detailed product photos

High-quality and properly optimized images not only showcase your products effectively but also provide customers with a clear understanding of what they are purchasing.

22% of consumers return the products because they look different from their images.

Photos should generally be well-lit, clear, high-resolution, and set front and center against a plain white background.

When taking photos, focus on the product. Take a few shots from different angles to give your visitors a good view of the item. If the item is hard to size, position it next to a ruler in the shot. Make sure that shoppers know what they’re getting.

ebay tips for taking photos that sell

#5 Encourage customers to leave reviews

Customer reviews and ratings provide valuable insights for potential buyers.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews after their purchase and prominently display them on your product pages. A high number of customer reviews will help other buyers to see whether they will find the product useful.

amazon marketplace product reviews

Final thoughts

Understanding the reasons behind returns and implementing the right strategies can enhance customer satisfaction, reduce return rates, and improve your store’s overall performance. Remember to provide accurate product information, optimize your translation and localization, and leverage customer feedback.

Minimizing the number of returns in your store is critical to running a successful online business.

While eliminating returns entirely may not be possible, applying these expert tips can significantly reduce their occurrence. You can boost customer retention and loyalty by creating a positive shopping experience for your customers and incentivizing them to keep their purchased items.

About Webinterpret

Webinterpret supports merchants selling on big ecommerce platforms. Our AI-based solution enables selling more effectively by giving your international customers a complete end-to-end local shopping experience. Webinterpret improves your conversion and helps establish your business on a global scale.

Our solution will help you stay in control of your cross-border returns. You can forget about excessive administrative work and high returns costs. Finally, you will increase your conversion rates and sell more by offering easy international returns to your customers.

Don’t wait to grow your sales right now! Our marketplace offer is constantly expanding – feel free to contact our sales experts.


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