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How to reduce January returns in an eCommerce business

Last Updated

The Christmas period is the busiest time of the eCommerce calendar. Sales go through the roof and profits should be on the rise during the busy Christmas shopping spree – but unfortunately, things can start to fall apart once it hits January and the returns start rolling in.

People open up their gifts on Christmas morning to be met with wonder and delight but sometimes things don’t fit right or the colour is wrong. Occasionally, the item they received might even be broken or damaged. 

This causes an influx of returns in January – which isn’t good for business at all, especially if you don’t have a solid returns policy in place.

Dealing with product returns isn’t exactly how you want to be spending your New Year celebrations. 

But, when a customer has a good return experience, they’re more likely to buy from you again. 

So here are 5 ways you can try to prevent Christmas returns in January and keep your customers coming back for more at the same time.

1. Have a solid returns policy

Having a clear and solid returns policy in place makes things a whole lot easier for you, your employees, and your customers. 

It’s important that your customers know exactly what your return and exchange process is. Clearly display it on your website so they can understand their rights and the instructions for returning items. 

You can include a few things on your website to make it easier for your customer to understand how your return and exchange policy works. 

For example, you can include:

  • How-to videos
  • Diagrams
  • Step-by-step explanations

If you’re not already, include instructions on how to return items with each order, and email them with order confirmations too.

Having reliable and easy-to-understand returns and exchange processes in place will take the pressure off your staff when it comes to the busy returns season. 

It’ll also make transactions go through with a lot less hassle, saving you a lot of time. 

By making things as clear as possible you’re also making it easier on your customer. The quicker you can get their return or exchange processed the more they’ll see you as a trustworthy business to work with. This will encourage them to make additional purchases from your store – they’ll know that if things go wrong, you’ve got their back.

2. Convert a return into a new sale

Returns suck, they do, but they also come with a great opportunity. Whether your customer is visiting your site or is on their way to your brick and mortar store, you’ll be able to re-engage with them. Even if they’re trying to return their unwanted item you can use this moment to try to get them to convert into another sale. 

Your number one priority should be trying to ensure a smooth return process but this doesn’t mean you can’t try to persuade them to buy something else. 

By processing their return quickly you’re improving customer satisfaction which means if you retarget them they’ll have positive memories of how good you were to work with, meaning they might just buy again. 

You already have a complete insight into their shopping history so you can easily target them with relevant offers. Who knows, this return might just end up turning into a more successful, higher-value sale.

3. Use high-quality product images & detailed descriptions

If you want to reduce the number of returns in January then having accurate product descriptions with clear, high-quality product images/videos are a must. 

Product images

This might seem like a no-brainer but there are actually a lot of product pages that only have one or two images uploaded. Your products have multiple sides and angles. Your consumers should be able to see all of it so they can take in all your product’s features. 

Providing a 360-degree product image is probably the best way to display your product as it gives your customer a full look at what you’re selling. 

If you can’t get a 360-degree image right now then make sure you at least provide the customer with the ability to zoom in on the products. It’s important that they get to view close-ups of all your products so they can see every detail. 

Providing in-depth explainers and showcase videos for your products helps to sell more (conversions typically increase between 64% and 85%) – and reduce your returns too. 

Product descriptions

Having detailed product descriptions isn’t just great for SEO, it also helps your consumers decide whether or not your product is right for them.  

A product description should be clear and easy to understand. It should describe everything to do with your product including the benefits and features. The more detailed your product description is the more you’ll entice the reader to buy it.

Pro tip: do not just copy and paste your product descriptions from your suppliers or competitors. It will damage your rankings on search engines and it’ll leave a bad impression on your site’s visitors.

The more you describe your product the more your customer will be sure that it’s the right choice for them. This paired with high-quality product images will ensure that your customer knows exactly what they’re buying which will reduce the number of returns you get.

4. Review your sizing information

To help prevent refunds in the New Year it’s important to review all your sizing information on your website. If you’re an eCommerce store that sells clothes or shoes then this is an important step in preventing a flood of refunds. 

You might think you’ve already got this covered but take a look over everything just in case the sizing charts you’ve provided are incorrect or outdated. 

One of the biggest culprits for returns is sizing. When a customer receives a package and their order is too big or too small they can get frustrated and upset with your company. If you’ve been selling online for a while, you probably already know people will buy multiple sizes of the same product to make sure they get the right fit – then return the items they don’t need. 

It’s important to make sure that each sizing chart on each product page is relevant for that particular product or brand. For example, don’t have a women’s clothing size chart on a men’s clothing product page. 

If you ship overseas, be sure to provide international conversion charts for both clothing and shoes. Some customers might not know they have to convert the sizes so they rely on these conversion charts.

5. Package all deliveries carefully

Broken or damaged products are a big reason for returns in January. When you’re sending out your packages from your warehouse be sure to handle them with care. To help prevent any damage happening during transit be sure to use protective packaging.

For example: 

  • If your product is easily ruined due to water damage be sure to use waterproof packaging, it could be raining when it’s delivered. 
  • If your product is quite fragile use padding or bubble wrap to keep it secure while in transit. There’s a good chance it could be squished by other boxes at some point along the way.

Want to reduce your January returns and get more sales on your eCommerce store?

Get in contact with our eCommerce experts, and we’ll help you figure out exactly what you can do to increase your online sales and reduce those return rates. 

Check out our 91 point eCommerce conversion optimisation checklist and learn how you can unlock the hidden revenue already in your eCommerce website by implementing the improvements professionals make on clients’ websites to increase sales.

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