Data reliability

E-commerce : 7 tips to reduce your product returns

DATE: 05/05/2022

Whether we like it or not, the number of return packages is increasing. Why is this? First of all, because the number of online orders is increasing every year. According to the FEVAD, the e-commerce sector has exceeded 129 billion euros in France last year, an increase of 15.1% over the year.

39% of packages were returned over the course of 2021 according to a study by Statista. So what are the main reasons for product returns? How can you significantly reduce them with clean and reliable product data? 

Discover our 7 solutions to reduce your returns to implement now.

The main reasons for product returns

Reason #1: Your product sheets are incomplete or incorrect 

Your customer is looking for a lamp for his home. Unfortunately, when he wants to know if it's a plug-in lamp or a battery-operated lamp, he can't find the answer in the description. He orders it anyway, but when he receives it, it doesn't meet his expectations. So he returns the product.

We have given the example of a light fixture but this can happen with any type of product. If the dimensions of a sofa are not given, the customer will surely return the product because it will not fit his interior. 

Reason #2: Customers prefer to compare 

We can take the previous example, asthe customer is not sure of the compatibility of his product, he orders several to have the choice and decides to return the products that do not interest him.

This can happen when: 

  • The customer hesitates between two colors and the images are not meaningful enough.
  • The size or dimension of the product was not listed, the product does not fit.

It is also possible that the customer buys a product to use temporarily, then returns it for a full refund after one or two uses. This happens very often around the holidays for products such as costumes. 

Reason #3: The offer of a free return is too easy 

It is proven that when the proposal of a free return is proposed too quickly or easily, the rate of product returns for the brand concerned is multiplied by 1.5.
Indeed, putting forward a return package too hastily without showing the environmental impact of this return does not warn the consumer about its approach. 

In addition, find our 2 solutions to meet the challenge of eco-responsibility as a brand, distributor, retailer or marketplaces, in this article. 

Reason #4: The product is damaged or incomplete 

It is obvious that if the product arrives damaged or incomplete, the consumer will return it. In most cases, the product is broken during delivery. It may be that the dimensions of the packaging were not properly filled in or that the weight of the package was not informed. The deliveryman may have forced the package into his truck because the necessary space was not provided on the delivery note. The product will therefore be damaged.

A second case is possible: when the customer buys a product in kit, it is possible thatthe number of packages to contain the product is higher than 1. However, if the number of packages is not well informed, it is possible that some items are lost. The customer will not receive the product in its totality and will make a return.

Have you ever thought about the cost of product returns? We decipher it in detail right here.

7 tips to reduce your product returns

As you can see, the key is tohave complete product sheets with reliable data to reduce your product return rate.

Here are our 7 tips:

Tip #1: Have a product sheet with a detailed description 

The first piece of advice we can give you is to provide a complete and comprehensive product sheet. Take care to fill in the description and attributes of your products correctly

The most important elements are: 

  • the place of manufacture 
  • the materials used 
  • the main color 
  • secondary colors
  • the dimensions 
  • the power
  • the capacity 
  • similar products
  • images 
  • etc.

Tip #2: Display product compatibility

It is important to display the compatibility of a product. Indeed, if the consumer is mistaken about the product because it is not compatible with his needs, he will return it without even asking questions.

We can give you the example of this Leroy Merlin product sheet, it sells a decorative led bulb. However, the customer has a dimmer switch at home. As you can see, Leroy Merlin informs him that this bulb is not compatible with his system. A product return is therefore avoided. 

Tip #3: Combine products in batches

Also called "cross-selling", its principle is to propose another product that can be used or complement the one presented on the product page.

Among the good examples of product sheets with cross-selling, we remember the one of the brand Mano Mano which, when you are on the product page of a percussion drill, proposes a set of 30 bits adapted to the tool in cross-selling (and complementary). 

Tip #4: Promote eco-labels 

The promotion of your eco-labels allows you to reach a more environmentally aware target. That is to say that your customers will unconsciously be more responsible and will not practice abusive returns.

Moreover, for example, by displaying a "Made in France" product they will not be afraid of being disappointed by receiving a product that comes from a country they do not like

Tip #5: Post customer reviews

And yes, your own customers can help you avoid a return package. But how? By posting their reviews directly on the product page, the future consumer may be able to find out aboutsomething that was not present in the product description

For good or bad, the potential customer will have all the cards in his hands to judge if the product can suit him. 

Tip #6: Specify the dimensions of the packaging and its fragility 

By specifying information such as dimensions, package weight, number of packages and fragility of the product, you greatly increase the chances that the product will arrive at the consumer's door in good condition and complete

Tip #7: Inform the delivery time 

By providing a delivery time, you will be transparent with the consumer. The customer can sometimes be impatient. When a delivery time is too long and you offer free returns, he will not hesitate to order a similar product 2 or 3 days after his order from you in order to receive the product more quickly from one of your competitors.

As soon as he receives your product, he will have a duplicate and will return it. 

How can Unifai help you? 

You have understood that e-retailers must focus on a good management of their data in order to improve the customer experience and thus reduce their product returns.
The same goes for marketplaces where brands deliver the product directly. Nevertheless, if the customer experience goes wrong, the image of the marketplace is directly impacted even though it is not necessarily responsible.

The automation of the data processing in a PIM thanks to AI is a real time saver for the product upload and avoids errors in the product sheets. Before or after the integration of your data in a PIM, Unifai categorizes, enriches and makes your product data reliable. 

If you want to know more about our modules for the reliability and enrichment of product data, please contact us or request a demo.

Pauline Le Calvez

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