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Maximize Your Profits: Reducing Ecommerce Return Rate with These 6 Proven Strategies

Having a superior reverse logistics approach and infrastructure is essential to running an online business. Returns are inevitable, and a partnership with a reputable 3PL ecommerce company will help you manage and lower your return rate. This is the percentage of products that customers return after being purchased. High return rates can greatly impact your profits and overall business success.

Compared to traditional brick-and-mortar stores with an average return rate of 10%, online businesses face a higher challenge with a return rate of between 20-30%. 86% of online shoppers consider the return policy while making purchasing decisions and 67% of online shoppers are considered “serial returners,” buying multiple versions of one item with the intent to return most of their purchases.

Managing customer queries and the reverse logistics process can have a huge impact not only on your bottom line but also on the reputation of your business. But don’t worry! These challenges can be overcome. 

Reduce your ecommerce return rate and boost your profits using our 6 proven strategies. These strategies cover various aspects of your business operations, from improving product descriptions to partnering with third-party logistics (3PL) providers. They are designed to help you directly address return issues and make your ecommerce business more profitable.

Understanding Ecommerce Return Rate

The return rate is a crucial KPI that shows how often customers return orders. As an ecommerce seller, it’s important to keep an eye on this metric because it directly affects your profits. The ecommerce return rate refers to the percentage of products sold that customers return to the seller. A high return rate might indicate product descriptions, customer expectations, or quality control issues, while a low return rate typically suggests that customers are satisfied with their purchases.

How to Calculate Return Rate Ecommerce:

Ecommerce Return Rate = (Number of Orders Returned / Total Number of Orders Sold) x 100

Recent industry data shows that the average return rate is about 10%. But for ecommerce businesses, this number is even higher – one in every five purchases gets sent back. This doubling of the return rate presents a unique challenge: dealing with the financial impact and the operational difficulties of handling returns.

High return rates can cause serious problems for your online store:

  • Lower Profits: Returns reduce your profit margins as you spend more money processing returns and shipping out replacements. In 2022, the cost of retail returns in the United States reached a staggering 817 billion U.S. dollars, with a quarter of it stemming from online retail.
  • Inventory Issues: Returning products can severely disrupt your inventory management. When numerous items are sent back, it becomes challenging to predict your inventory needs accurately. This uncertainty can lead to overstocking or understocking issues, both of which are detrimental to your business.
  • Negative Customer Experience: When customers have to return something because it’s defective or they’re not happy with it, it can harm your brand reputation and make them less likely to shop with you again. According to a study by Bloomreach, 92% of customers will not buy from a retailer again after three or fewer negative experiences.

Understanding these consequences can help you, as an ecommerce business owner, focus on finding ways to lower your return rate. One World Direct offers efficient inventory management and order fulfillment solutions that can help reduce ecommerce return rates. Streamline your operations and minimize returns using our fulfillment services and call center services for complete reverse logistics management.

Factors Contributing to High Ecommerce Return Rate

Ecommerce Shoppers and Bracketing

The shopping habits of ecommerce customers play a significant role in driving high return rates. A common behavior among online shoppers is ‘Bracketing,’ where customers intentionally purchase multiple sizes or variations of a product with the plan to return the unwanted items. This behavior significantly contributes to the overall return rate and 63% of shoppers reported bracketing in a 2022 survey. 

Bracketing not only creates a significant strain on ecommerce businesses but also the environment. In fact, the carbon dioxide produced from ecommerce returns in 2019 was equivalent to 3 million cars driving in a single year, CBS reported, citing data from Optoro, a reverse-logistics technology company.

Customer Dissatisfaction, Quality Issues, and Wrong Size Purchases

High return rates often signal underlying issues that need addressing. One such issue is customer dissatisfaction, which can stem from various factors, including poor product quality or misrepresenting products online. When customers receive items that do not match their expectations based on the product descriptions and images, dissatisfaction ensues leading to returns.

Product quality issues are another primary contributor to high return rates. If a product fails to meet a customer’s quality standards or is defective, it’ll likely be returned.

Finally, sizing problems also contribute significantly to ecommerce returns. When shopping online, customers can’t physically assess items. They rely on the size charts and descriptions provided. However, discrepancies between these descriptions and the actual product size lead to wrong-size purchases and consequently, returns.

To mitigate these factors contributing to a high ecommerce return rate, consider investing in call center services that can handle customer inquiries promptly and efficiently. These services include managing calls, chats, and emails on your behalf. Using a US-based call center will help mitigate return issues so potential loss sales can turn into repeat purchases.

1. Improve Product Descriptions and Photography

Detailed product descriptions are one of the easiest and quickest ways to reduce your ecommerce return rate. You can answer potential customer questions before they even ask by providing thorough information about product features, specifications, and sizing. This proactive approach helps manage expectations and can significantly decrease returns.

Here are some key elements to include in your product descriptions:

  • Material & Construction: Clearly state the materials used and provide details about the construction process to convey a sense of quality.
  • Dimensions & Fit: Include accurate measurements and offer guidance on how the product fits to help customers choose the right size.
  • Usage & Care Instructions: Explain how to properly use and care for the product to prevent any misunderstandings or misuse.

In addition to detailed descriptions, high-quality photography is essential for ecommerce success. When customers can’t physically see or touch a product, images become their primary source of information. Here’s how you can optimize your product photos:

  • Showcase from Multiple Angles: Capture photographs that display all sides and angles of the product, giving customers a complete visual representation.
  • Enable Zoom Functionality: Implement a zoom feature on your website so customers can closely examine textures and fine details.
  • Include Contextual Imagery: Feature lifestyle shots or images showing the product being used in real-life situations, helping customers better understand its size and functionality.

By implementing these strategies consistently across your ecommerce store, you’ll likely see a decrease in return rates and an increase in long-term profitability.

2. Enhance Website User Experience

Creating a user-friendly, intuitive website is essential for reducing ecommerce return rates. A core part of this strategy involves optimizing your website for mobile users.

Optimizing for Mobile

With an increasing number of shoppers making purchases from their smartphones, providing them with a smooth and efficient online shopping experience is crucial. A mobile-friendly site not only enhances the shopping experience by ensuring easy navigation and quick loading times, but it also helps customers make informed purchase decisions. By 2024, there will most likely be over 187 million active mobile shoppers in the US alone so prioritizing your mobile shopping experience is a must.

Reducing Buying Friction

A well-optimized mobile site can significantly reduce buying friction:

  • Fewer page redirects
  • Minimal loading time
  • Easily accessible product information
  • Clear calls-to-action
  • A seamless checkout process

By mitigating these common pain points, you can decrease the likelihood of customers making hasty or ill-informed purchases that they later regret and return.

Lowering Returns

An enhanced website user experience can lead to more accurate purchase decisions and thus lower return rates. Remember: every return avoided is potential profit retained., leading to an increase in long-term profitability. So, investing in optimizing your website for mobile users is a smart move that can yield significant returns for your ecommerce business.

3. Utilize Third-party Logistics (3PL)

Third-party logistics (3PL) providers are a crucial part of ecommerce, especially in terms of reducing return rates. By partnering with a 3PL, you can benefit from their expertise in handling storage, shipping, and returns processing. This can directly impact your profits. Here are the main advantages:

  • Efficient Inventory Management: 3PLs use advanced inventory systems to ensure products are always available, reducing the chances of sending wrong items that often result in returns.
  • Fast Shipping: Speed is important in ecommerce; 3PLs are great at quickly and accurately shipping orders, which leads to satisfied customers and fewer returns due to shipping delays.
  • Streamlined Returns Handling: A capable 3PL makes the returns process easy for you and your customers by taking care of all the logistics, from providing return labels to restocking or disposing of returned items.

Using these services lets you concentrate on your main business tasks while letting the experts handle logistics. They’ll help improve your entire fulfillment process for a more desirable customer shopping experience while helping you reduce returns through professional management.

4. Implement an Effective Online Review System

Reviews are essential to improve your ecommerce business and help customers make informed purchases. Even a single review can have a tremendous effect. When a product goes from zero reviews to displaying just one, the rate that shoppers actually click the purchase button skyrockets by 65%. Displaying online reviews increases conversion rates by 270% and will help you lower your return rate. Deploying an online review system is a powerful strategy to harness customer feedback for multiple benefits:

  • Identify and Resolve Recurring Issues: Customer reviews often highlight recurring problems with products. By analyzing this feedback, businesses can pinpoint and rectify issues, leading to a better product offering and fewer returns.
  • Boost Consumer Confidence: Shoppers rely on peer evaluations when making purchasing decisions. Visible, positive reviews can increase buyer confidence, reducing the likelihood of returns due to unmet expectations.
  • Enhance Product Descriptions: Use insights from reviews to enrich product descriptions. If customers frequently comment on a specific feature, clarify this in the description to ensure future buyers are well-informed.
  • Foster Continuous Improvement: Constructive criticism is invaluable for continuous product enhancement. Implement changes based on customer suggestions to elevate product quality and satisfaction.

By integrating a robust review system, you not only give voice to your customers but also capture real-time market research data that’s critical for reducing return rates and elevating the overall shopping experience.

5. Streamline the Returns Process

To secure customer loyalty and reduce the ecommerce return rate, it’s essential to simplify the returns process.

  • Offer Exchanges: Customers often prefer a different size or color instead of a refund. Make this option visible and easy to use.
  • Provide Immediate Refunds: When a return is inevitable, process refunds swiftly to maintain trust and encourage future purchases.
  • Cover Return Shipping Costs: Free returns are a powerful incentive for customers to shop with confidence, knowing they won’t incur extra costs if an item doesn’t meet their expectations.

This approach can transform the potentially negative experience of a return into a positive interaction that fosters customer retention and brand loyalty. Remember, it’s always easier to convert a returning shopper than acquire a new one so following these best practices will help you manage your returns while building a reputation for excellent customer service.

6. Considerations for International Shipping

When it comes to international shipping, there are several unique challenges that can significantly impact return rates. One of the critical factors contributing to these returns is unexpected customs charges. To address this issue effectively, it’s worth considering the implementation of DDP (Delivery Duty Paid) in your shipping process.

With a DDP setup, the seller assumes responsibility for all duties and import fees, eliminating any unforeseen customs charges for the buyer. This approach offers multiple benefits that can help optimize your international shipping strategy:

  • Clarity in Pricing: DDP provides customers with transparency regarding the total cost upfront. By eliminating hidden charges, this can significantly boost customer satisfaction and minimize returns.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience: The simplicity of a DDP setup streamlines the buying process for international customers, as they no longer have to worry about additional fees upon delivery.
  • Reduced Return Rates: By addressing one of the main reasons for international returns – unexpected customs fees – DDP can help you reduce your ecommerce return rate.

The One World Direct (OWD) Difference

Using our call center, advanced technology stack, and capable team, you can begin lowering your return rate and deliver superior reverse logistics experiences so your customers stay in your pipeline. We excel in delivering top-notch services that enhance the overall customer experience during the returns process:

Contact Center Services:

Our contact center can handle all your customer queries through phone calls, emails, and web chats. Our US-based agents handle all customer service requests and we can collaborate with your team to develop scripts and language that fit your ideal brand experience.

Virtual Assistants:

We offer virtual assistant services for businesses looking to streamline their operations. These trained professionals can handle tasks like order processing and tracking, freeing up valuable time for business owners.

Returns Management:

Returns are an inevitable part of ecommerce, but we make it easier for businesses to handle them. Our comprehensive returns services include features like pre-printed return labels, quality control inspections, and efficient restocking processes.

Landing Cost Calculator:

Give customers a clear picture of how much they must pay for VAT, customs, and duties when ordering products internationally. By providing this information upfront, customers avoid surprises or unexpected charges during shipping. Many of our clients use and love Passport’s total landed cost tool, which offers total transparency. An added bonus is that there is no extra cost for this service when using Passport shipping methods. 

Easy Integration:

Seamlessly migrate to our logistics suite and access advanced tools to improve your fulfillment operations. Businesses can easily connect their ecommerce platforms, allowing for smooth data transfer and real-time updates. Gain better visibility over your operations and our machine learning tech will automatically find more efficient processes and ways to reduce returns.

Personalized-to-Consumer (P2C) Fulfillment:

use our P2C plugin and allow your customers to personalize products with custom engravings and embroidery. Offering P2C fulfillment will not only set your brand apart but personalized products have a substantially lower return rate than conventional goods.

Partner with us and we’ll manage your ecommerce returns through its combination of innovative tools and comprehensive services. From addressing challenges such as unexpected customs charges and inefficient returns processes, we’ll provide a reliable framework to optimize your operations and deliver exceptional customer experiences. Get in touch with one of our fulfillment specialists and we’ll review your current return rate and costs and gameplan an effective strategy to improve your reverse logistics approach.

Fulfillment Costs

Fulfillment costs are based on three criteria: size, weight and delivery time.

OWD offers five service levels: economy (7-10 days); Standard (5-7 days), 2-Day, Overnight and International.

Starting At

$3.99

Per Unit

FAQs

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International Shipping

The old way to ship internationally

DDU means Delivery Duty Unpaid – where the buyer pays for all of the import fees at delivery.

Unexpected import fees give buyers sticker shock – not good. When they refuse to pay, you’ve lost a sale and must pay to return your product, or abandon it.

DDU is an old idea whose time has passed. For these reasons and more, OWD doesn’t recommend DDU for e-com sellers.

The best way to ship internationally

DDP is an acronym for Delivery Duty Paid. DDP means that the seller pays for all the duties and import fees.

With DDP, your customers won’t be surprised with unexpected customs charges – good!

With OWD’s landed cost calculator, your foreign customers will know exactly what their various VAT, customers and duties will cost. No unhappy surprises.

Ship flat-rate anywhere in the world starting at:

$16.39

One World Direct, B.V.

For large-scale operations needing a full solution in Europe, there’s OWD Europe, based in Amsterdam.

We Make Contact Center EASY

Sell More with Live Agents

The Services

OWD handles phone calls, e-mails and web chat eighteen hours a day from our own state-of-the-art facility.

We’ll handle your inbound sales and customer service contacts.

You get career agents who speak American English and know how to sell.

The Costs

$99 gets you 200 calls, e-mails or chats handled every week.

You get your own phone number and custom e-mail.

We do a lot more. Call for details.

More than a Call Center

Get Virtual Assistants as needed

One World’s contact center in Mobridge, South Dakota.

The Voice of Your Brand

We Make Returns EASY

Returns? Yuck.
One World has a simple solution.

All-Inclusive Returns

OWD’s all-inclusive Returns service provides simplicity and high-end customer service. OWD includes a pre-printed return label as part of your packing slip. Your customer need only drop it in the mail.

What’s included: packaging slip with return label, QC inspection, re-bag, re-tag and return to stock. What’s excluded: postage cost, poly bags and any special packaging.

Base Price

$4.95

Add-On Services

Call For Quotes