It should come as no surprise that returned goods are bad news for ecommerce stores. When customers return merchandise, storeowners lose the money from that sale, and often have to pay for return shipping. There are many factors that contribute to an ecommerce return rate that often reaches as high as 30 percent.

This is much higher than the rate of return for physical retailers, which is under 9 percent. Due to some of the inherent challenges of ecommerce that make it more prone to returns, it’s essential that online store owners strive to combat this metric.

People Return Products of Poor Quality

The biggest reason why the return rate for ecommerce stores is so much higher than for brick-and-mortar retailers is the fact that you can’t hold an item you see online before you buy it. A lot of the time, people get exactly what they’re expecting from an online purchase. And when they don’t—well, that’s why the ecommerce return rate is so high. One of the best ways to combat these return rates is by simply offering high-quality products

This advice won’t apply for all ecommerce stores. Sometimes the price disparity between product grades makes it impossible for smaller ecommerce retailers to turn a profit on nicer items. Generally speaking, however, people will be much less likely to return an item if it’s of good quality. 

Don’t Surprise People

The reason you have product descriptions and images is so consumers can have an accurate idea of what you’re offering before they buy it. If your product descriptions don’t match up with the actual product, expect to be getting a lot of returns. 

Use high-quality photos of your products so there will be no confusion on the receiving end. Make sure your cloud ecommerce software allows for high-resolution images and multiple images on each product page. You also need to write out a detailed product description that doesn’t leave out any information. If customers feel they were deceived by your product listing, they will almost certainly return the product. But even if they don’t send back the item, you’ll be at risk for a negative review. This can be even more detrimental in the long run than a returned product, as 40 percent of consumers build opinions about products or brands from three or fewer online reviews. Deceptive product listings are one of the best ways to rack up a few negative reviews. 

Utilize Return Data

Companies are quantitating almost every aspect of their operations in order to make better business decisions. Data is allowing ecommerce stores to run more efficiently and profitably than ever before. One of the most important aspects of your ecommerce store is your returns. So why not try to analyze these as well?

By boiling down your online store’s returns to a set of data points, you will be able to gain some invaluable insights as to why people might be returning certain items. Ask for customers why they’re returning an item. Customer feedback in this form isn’t always 100 percent accurate. However, it can provide some extremely useful general insights. One way to incentivize people to fill out return surveys is by offering small gift cards or discounts to your online store. This will generate better responses while also getting people back where you want them: buying your merchandise. 

For the time being, returns are going to continue being a major part of selling products online. Even though this problem can’t be entirely avoided, there are several things ecommerce retailers can do to lower their rates of returns, while also keeping customers happy with their brand.