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4 Best Practices to Reduce Ecommerce Returns and Exchanges

Amanda Silberling
Online retailers can use these strategies to reduce return rates, manage exchanges, improve customer experience, and reduce hassle.
Image by Hub Consulting

For e-commerce businesses and retail brands, online returns and exchanges pose a serious challenge. For online shoppers that often use Amazon and have been trained to expect free returns for their online purchases, it's important to maintain a positive, no-hassle customer experience. According to Shopify, e-commerce returns occur at a 20% rate, and during the holiday season, that rate can rise to 30%.

This year, as the coronavirus drives more consumers to do their holiday shopping online, it’s more important than ever to develop a plan to manage product returns and exchanges. That way, you’ll be able to maintain and grow your profit margins by increasing your conversion rates at checkout and lowering the costs of your bottom line.

1. Preventing Online Returns and Exchanges

For e-commerce stores, return rates are almost twice as high as their brick-and-mortar competitors. In stores, customers can get a better sense of an item’s size, color, or feel – so, to remain competitive and manage customer returns, many e-commerce brands are getting creative to ensure customer satisfaction and glowing customer reviews.

Outdoor Voices fit quiz

Sometimes, online retailers encounter serial returners, who use your returns policy and free return shipping to try on clothing at home. To improve customer experience, Outdoor Voices uses interactive size charts on their product pages, which allow customers to specify their height and desired pant length to determine the right product to buy the first time, instead of trying on different sizes at home.

CUUP, a womens’ intimates brand, offers customers an in-depth “fit quiz,” which even compares CUUP’s sizing to other leading e-commerce retailers. Still, finding the right bra size can be a hassle – so, CUUP takes their pre-sale customer service a step further by offering online video fittings.

By helping customers choose the sizes and styles that best suit their needs in the first place, brands like Outdoor Voices and CUUP minimize their e-commerce return rate, which helps lower bottom line costs.

Mented Cosmetics shade finder

When buying makeup from an e-commerce business, consumers often struggle to understand product descriptions or product images to find the right shade of foundation or lipstick for their complexion, which affects customer experience and contributes to heightened return and exchange rates.

Mented Cosmetics foundation shade comparison guide

2. Converting Customer Returns to Exchanges from Online Shopping

Even with innovative online quizzes and charts, it’s inevitable that some customers will need to return their purchases. But by converting returned products into exchanges, you keep customers engaged with your products and increase the possibility of customer retention for your online business.

Vince Camuto offers a financial incentive in their return policy for shoppers to return their misbuys for store credit, rather than a refund. Not only does this offer the opportunity for online retailers to retain income from the sale, but it also makes it possible to upsell consumers to another product. If the $50 shoes didn’t fit, maybe the $65 pair will!

3. Enable Online Shoppers to Return in Store

Customers love to have flexible options when it comes to ecommerce returns and exchanges. For online retailers with brick-and-mortar locations, encouraging customers to make product returns in-store is a great strategy to get buyers back in the door to make a second purchase.

With that in mind, Vince Camuto partnered with DSW, a larger chain that sells their brand. Now, if a customer isn’t satisfied with their online Vince Camuto order, they make their e-commerce return in-store at DSW to save on return shipping costs.

4. Make the Returns Process More Efficient

The more efficient your returns process, the happier your customers will be. Many e-commerce websites are turning to self-service returns tools like Loop Returns, Returnly, and Return Magic, which automate the production of return labels, help online shoppers track their shipments, and even convert returns to exchanges.

When sales spike during the holiday season, it can be difficult to keep up with increased customer service demand.

Chatdesk Shift deflects calls to self-service, reducing inbound call volume and enhancing your customer satisfaction.

Then, Chatdesk Teams can make the functionality of your returns process more efficient by solving repetitive tickets about returns and exchanges.


Looking for a better way to manage ecommerce returns and exchanges?
Schedule a Chatdesk demo to cut costs and maximize customer satisfaction this holiday season.

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