When customers return a product or request a refund, it can hurt your bottom line. It’s worth noting that in 2021, UK young adults (18-24) returned nearly 16% of the goods they bought

As a business, you want to get that number as low as possible. There are tips and tricks you can use to reduce customer returns. We’ve pulled together a list of the best solutions. 

In this article, we’ll go over strategies like:

  • Working out why you’re getting returns
  • Switching to a high-quality supplier
  • Being accurate in your descriptions
  • Offering customer support
  • Collecting visual customer feedback
  • Packing everything securely
  • Clarifying delivery times

How to reduce customer returns

Ready to start reducing your customer returns? Keep reading for potential solutions to your problem

Working out why you’re getting returns

The first step to fixing your customer returns problem is to figure out why you’ve got one. There could be multiple reasons why a customer returns a product, so don’t be afraid to ask

When you know why there’s a problem, you can figure out a solution. 

One way you can find out why customers return your products is to have them share the reason for returning it before you process the request. 

To dig deeper, you could send a survey asking for the reason behind the return and how they think you can improve in the future. You could offer a voucher or another perk to incentivise people to share their opinion.

Switching to a high-quality supplier

You might get a lot of returns because your products aren’t high enough quality for their price point. For example, if someone pays £40 for a customised t-shirt that falls apart in two weeks, they’ll want a refund. 

If your problem is quality, you can solve this by finding a better supplier. While changing your supplier may need you to alter your products or services, announcing the change can invite good publicity. 

With changes that directly affect the customer, being upfront and open can foster a better relationship.  

Being accurate with your descriptions

One reason you might experience high returns is that your products are incorrectly labelled. This means the item your customer purchased wasn’t the one they were expecting

This could be something as simple as listing a jumper in the wrong size or having a product in the wrong packaging. By doing random stock checks, you can make sure that everything is where it’s meant to be.

Including images can help too. If a customer is able to see an accurate picture of the item, it can help inform their decision. When buyers are fully informed about what they’re purchasing, they’re less likely to send it back. 

Include a customer question segment

If you sell products online, you might benefit from including a section where potential customers can ask questions. This section lets people ask specific questions that your description may not cover. 

Offering customer support

If a product requires some assembly, a client may feel like there’s an issue when there isn’t one. In these types of situations, the best course of action is just to talk through the problem

Customer support features can solve this. For example, it can better explain how a product fits together, or how to access a part of your site. 

Of course, if your customer support highlights the same issue multiple times then it may be worth looking into. Make sure instructions are clear and simple when something needs to be constructed, and you’ll limit returns from confused clients. 

Collecting visual customer feedback

Customers are used to leaving reviews on products, but what’s less common is attaching a picture to their review

Items can look different online to their physical counterparts, so encouraging previous purchasers to photograph the results is a great selling point. 

By having these images come from previous purchasers, it also makes them more relatable than professional product photos. 

Packing everything securely

You can have the perfect product, and exactly what the customer wants. But if you don’t package it properly, you risk a return

Not all delivery drivers are careful with their packages, even if you pay extra for it. This can mean that a product that should’ve been fine, arrives damaged or broken instead. 

While the damage isn’t necessarily your fault, there are things you can do on your side to prevent future damage. Think about due diligence as a business, and what you would expect if you were the customer. 

A 3D printing business, for example, creates fragile figurines. You would need to send your prints in suitable packaging to account for the fragility of your stock. Slapping an order in an envelope is a recipe for high return rates. 

Clarifying delivery times

This is a slightly smaller point, but it can help to reduce customer returns. With the likes of Amazon rising to prominence, people are used to receiving an order immediately

Some Amazon products can even be delivered on the same day you order them. Because of this, you have to let customers know how long delivery usually takes before they order. 

Say a client needs your product within a few days. If your delivery time is a week, by the time their order arrives they may not need it anymore. 

You can cut down on some returns by clearly listing estimated delivery. Some small businesses (like those on Etsy) ship internationally. These online businesses sometimes have a table of countries and approximate delivery times.

Be ready when they do

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to prevent a return. A customer may have bought something by mistake, or didn’t realise they already own the product. 

In these situations, all you can do is accept the return and offer a refund or exchange. This can be difficult if you don’t know how much money you currently have available. 

That’s where the Countingup app comes in. Instead of worrying about your finances, this two-in-one business current account and accounting software combo watches your money for you. 

Download the Countingup app today.

Smoothing out other hiccups

Customer returns might not be the only issue your business has to deal with. Your reviews might have taken a hit because of the returns. 

Figuring out how to turn your ratings around is a must. If you’re struggling, there are plenty of ideas in our ‘how to get positive reviews online’ guide

Another issue you might have noticed, is that your products aren’t selling as well compared to when you first launched them. Don’t panic. 
Instead, check out our ‘extension strategy’ guide to learn about product life cycles and what you can do about it.