How Can E-commerce Businesses Reduce Product Return Rates?

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returns management

Whilst it may not be the most enjoyable process; product returns are an inevitable aspect of any e-commerce business.

With online retail now proving more popular than ever before as a result of the pandemic, increased orders also raise the likelihood of product returns.

A study conducted by Barclaycard revealed that UK shoppers return around £7 billion worth of orders every year.

Although certain levels of product returns are expected within e-commerce, a high rate could seriously impact your bottom line.

Discover the importance of keeping your product returns to a minimum and how you can go about reducing your overall product return rate.

The impact of a high product return rate

E-commerce businesses with high product return rates can soon find themselves facing crumbling profit margins and low conversion rates.

Some of the most significant financial setbacks when dealing with product returns can include:

  • Covering delivery costs
  • Restocking expenses
  • Inventory losses


E-commerce businesses must, therefore, take the necessary steps to ensure that customer returns are evaded and kept to a minimum to avoid impacting their bottom line.

Why do consumers return products?

There are many reasons why a consumer may choose to return a product, some avoidable and others not.

Some of the most common reasons why consumers return products are as follows:

  • Items not matching the product description on websites
  • Receiving an incorrect product
  • Consumer ordered the wrong item
  • Clothing bought intending to return (aka wardrobing)
  • Damaged products
  • The product doesn’t fit properly
  • The consumer changed their mind
  • The consumer found a better price elsewhere
  • Delivery of product was late

How to reduce product returns

Whilst some product returns are a natural part of online retail; there are practices e-commerce businesses can put in place to reduce errors and customer confusion, preventing unnecessary returns.

Keep product listings detailed and accurate

No business wants to see a product returned as a result of it not meeting consumer expectations. E-commerce businesses must do everything they can to depict their products online accurately. Websites must be as thorough as possible and ensure product listings include the following:

  • Multiple high-quality images showing the product from all angles.
  • Detailed product descriptions including sizes, materials and weight
  • Product videos showing a 360-degree view of the item

Include a size guide

It can be very frustrating for consumers when they discover an item of clothing in their usual size doesn’t fit properly. As a result, it can be highly beneficial for fashion retails to include a size guide on their website detailing the measurements of each of their sizes to avoid customer disappointment.

Ensure orders are accurate

E-commerce businesses must ensure that customer orders are 100% accurate every time. Customers receiving the wrong order is an issue that can easily be avoided by a smooth order fulfilment process. Many small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) are now outsourcing their order fulfilment to third-party logistics (3PL) providers to ensure the process is as efficient as possible. 3PL providers operate using automated methods, eliminating human error and reducing the overall likelihood of errors.

Ensure packaging is sufficient

Customers receiving damaged goods as a result of a poorly packaged product is another highly preventable issue when it comes to customer returns. High-quality packaging is another reason why many e-commerce businesses choose to outsource their order fulfilment process. 3PL providers offer a range of packaging options, ensuring that products, both large and small, can be picked and packed appropriately.

Enable customer product reviews

Product reviews are an excellent way for potential customers to assess if a product is right for them. Reviews can help steer consumers towards purchasing if they can see that others have had success with the product. On the contrary, reviews can also drive consumers away from a product if it sounds like it might not fit their brief. As a result, the review has deterred a consumer from purchasing a product that’s not right for them, avoiding the need for a return.

Here are just a few steps that e-commerce businesses can start to implement, if they don’t already, to reduce their return rate, saving both time and money.

If you think your e-commerce business could benefit from a tighter order fulfilment process, then it might be time to give Pointbid a call.

Pointbid has over 50 years’ experience in e-fulfilment and logistics warehousing and would love to help make your order fulfilment process more efficient.

Please give us a call on 0121 326 7368 to discover the many options available.

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