While we typically talk about what to do when you receive returns (after all, that’s what Loop is all about), we’re going to put our personal interests aside today and show you how to reduce returns before they happen.

While there are a multitude of reasons a customer might want to return something. We have found that the majority fall into one of 4 categories. Here is how you can prevent those types of returns from happening.

Addressing the 4 most common reasons for returns

1. Sizing

It’s easy to see why sizing is such a challenge in ecommerce. Customers don’t have the luxury of touching, seeing, and trying on your products in person – not to mention there’s little to no consistency in sizing across brands. In fact, fit issues are the number one reason why customers end up returning.

These types of returns will always happen, but there are a few ways to help customers understand your sizing and reduce size related returns.

  • Craft an awesome size guide. There are lots of not-so-awesome size guides out there. Mizzen+Main’s is not one of them. We love this brand’s guide because 1.) it’s easy to read 2.) they offer different guidelines for different products and 3.) they leave no questions unanswered (check out their additional guidance on the difference between the No Tuck, Regular, and Tall versions of their shirts).
  • Create a space for customers to share feedback. Let customers leave reviews directly on your product pages. These forums usually end up being a treasure trove of valuable information – with customers leaving details about their own height, weight, and how the product fit on them. This can serve as an incredibly useful point of reference for other shoppers.
  • Relate your sizing to something the customer already knowsTecovas’ pop-out version of its sizing guidelines offer more nuanced information and tells shoppers that the size is true to fit and they should simply check what size if most common in your closet.
  • Offer an additional helping hand. You can also offer your customers an additional helping hand by connecting them to sizing experts. Knix, for example, is an intimates brand that offers virtual fittings to help customers figure out the most accurate bra size for them. Another idea is to build a “find your size” function into your website. Again, Mizzen + Main has a great example of this feature.

2. Product quality 

When your customer receives a product that’s not the level of quality they were expecting, it signals that your product and marketing efforts aren’t aligned. We only have one recommendation to help address this return reason:

  • Strike the right balance between product and marketing. It’s as simple as that. While we understand that you want to make your product as appealing as possible to customers, you also need to maintain their trust by representing your product in an accurate way. So if you’re selling a plain cotton t-shirt, don’t talk about how it has “incredible moisture-wicking qualities” or  “is made of the softest material on the planet.” You’re just setting yourself up for disappointed customers and unmet expectations.

3. Did not match the description

There are times when a customer receives a product that doesn’t align with their expectations. This can happen for a number of reasons: maybe your photographs were off, or you simply didn’t include enough information about the item. There are a few ways to minimize the chances of this happening and give the most accurate representation of what you’re selling:

  • Add a variety of images. Remember that customers are relying solely on your brand’s marketing efforts to make a purchasing decision. Be considerate of this fact and, where possible, provide as much information as possible – especially with visuals. Take product photos from multiple angles and with models of various body shapes and sizes to give shoppers as much to work off of as possible. Also make sure to use color-balancing procedures to ensure that the photos on your website match the actual product – this is a common problem that we’ve helped brands like Love Your Melon identify and fix.
  • Incorporate videos. More and more brands are incorporating 360 videos onto their product pages. This is a great idea as it provides one of the most honest representations of your product. A video can give customers a sense for how the fabric moves or what the colors look like under different lighting. 
  • Describe what your customers can’t see. A report found that 79% of respondents cited “detailed product descriptions” as a very important factor when making a purchase. But a true product description has to go beyond just explaining what the product is. It has to describe what your customers might not be able to see for themselves. For instance, including details about feel or scent. Or pointing out subtle features like hidden pockets or zippers.

4. Logistical problems

Sometimes your customer will receive the wrong product or even a damaged item. While this is bound to happen occasionally due to how complex ecommerce is logistically, it shouldn’t happen frequently. If it is, this is a problem that needs to be investigated and addressed ASAP. Otherwise, you risk hemorrhaging money and losing customer relationships. The best way to do this? 

  • Track errors. Make sure you have an internal tracking system that documents any logistics-related errors. You may also want to give your customers the ability to report any problems with shipping or packaging so that you have the most holistic picture possible. Collecting this data will help you identify the main source of the problem and take steps to resolve it as needed – whether it’s an issue with your 3PL or your own warehouse. 

While returns are inevitable in ecommerce, they don’t have to be completely out of your control. Address the most common reasons for returns that we outlined above and use a feature like return reasons to identify future changes you can make.

If you want additional support to improve your return rates and overall returns experience, Loop is here to help.