Top 6 Reasons for E-Commerce Merchandise Returns

Written by Pat

It’s a cost of doing business and a headache for a lot of online sellers: accepting merchandise returns.

There are valid reasons that we get returned merchandise from our online customers, but there are some times that costly returns can be avoided or prevented.

According to a recent Distribution Center Operations Report from The Supply Chain Consortium and Reverse Logistics: Returns, Refunds and Recalls Hot Topic Report, the top six reasons for customer returns were:

1. The customer ordered incorrect product or size
2. The customer decided the product was not needed or wanted
3. No reason for return given
4. The product did not match the description on the Website or in the catalog
5. The product did not fit the customer’s expectations
6. The company shipped the incorrect product or size

e-commerce shoppers

So, as an e-commerce company, how can you stem the tide of product returns?

At first glance, it would seem that the merchant might be responsible for only #6:

The company shipped the incorrect product or size

This, of course, is generally a clerical error that might be avoided with improved systems and procedures and employee training.

However, there are quite a few steps an e-commerce seller can take to prevent returns based on some of the other reasons that were cited.

How about these reasons?

1. The customer ordered incorrect product or size

4. The product did not match the description on the Website or in the catalog

The number one reason is incorrect product or size and the fourth most popular reason is that the description was not accurate. How can you as an online seller prevent this?

Ask yourself:
How clear and accurate is my description?
How many pictures do I have for each product?
Do the pictures show the product from various angles?
Do the pictures show relative size with a ruler or other measurement of scale?
For clothing items, are there sizing charts available?
Do I link to the sizing charts from the respective product page?
Do I provide measurements?

Another way to avoid having customer returns is to allow customers to leave product reviews.

Besides providing descriptive language that will help the search engines better index your products, reviews left by past customers can help shoppers make the best decision based on their experience. Who better to know that a pair of shoes runs small and to order a half-size up? Or that the orange shown in the picture is just a little bit brighter than the actual color of the purse?

As an e-commerce website, we will always be susceptible to returns, but it is possible to greatly improve your company’s return rate by improvements to your site and product descriptions. These changes will not only lower your merchandise return rate, but provide a boost to your customer satisfaction rate as well.

Online Retailers: FTC Is Watching Your Endorsements

written by Cathy, SnorkelingOnline

SEO is always on my mind. Ok, call me a dork… but organic search is very important to my ecommerce business. And with SEO, blogging is up on my “to do” list. Now who doesn’t like blogging? You can tell the world what your personal opinion is. And this can include product endorsements.

As President of Internet Merchants Association, I am going to tell online retailers, that ASD/AMD is the best & largest sourcing show in the world. Their next show is February 28-March 3, 2010 in Las Vegas. You can find almost anything you are looking for, to sell online.

Now, what is wrong with that statement? I am endorsing ASD/AMD. And the Federal Trade Commission recently says that I need to disclose to the consumer that Internet Merchants Association accepts money or free products from ASD/AMD (actually we trade services) for a review on their product/services. The FTC is taking a closer look at how we (bloggers) are promoting ecommerce merchants.

So to all the bloggers, becareful… state your relationship & payments accepted or you could get in legal trouble which could include a fine of up to $11,000.

Social Networks: Is Big Brother Watching You?

written by Cathy,SnorkelingOnline

This does not include only online ecommerce sellers, this involves everyone who is involved in social networking. Make time to read this report, that was released last month, On the Leakage of Personally Identifiable Information Via Online Social Networks.

Over half a billion people are on various Online Social Networks (OSNs) and have made available a vast amount of personal information on these OSNs. OSN users make movements around the Internet can now be tracked not just as an IP address, but be associated with the unique identifier used to store information about users on an OSN. This OSN identifier is a pointer to PII about the user. Cookies and other tracking mechanisms on the Internet have been prevalent for a long time. The general claim of aggregators is that they create profiles of users based on their Internet behavior, but do not gather or record PII. Although we do not know that aggregators are recording PII, we demonstrate with this work that it is undeniable that information is available to them. Aggregators do not have to take any action to receive this information. As part of requests, they receive OSN identifiers with pointers to the PII or in some cases, directly receive pieces of PII. This PII information can be joined with information from tracking cookies obtained from the user’s traversal to any site that triggers a visit to the same aggregator. The ability to link information across traversals on the Internet coupled with the wide range of daily actions performed by hundreds of millions of users on the Internet raises privacy issues, particularly to the extent users may not understand the consequences of having their PII information available to aggregators.

While most social networks do have a policy that state that they do provide non-identifiable information to third parties for advertisers, but what they dont tell you is that with the advanced technology, they can now allow third parties to access your user name, birth date, sex, social security numbers, etc. and other linable personable identifiable information that can identify the user. Is this violating their private policies? Be cautious of what private information you put about yourself and your business.

IMA Recognized as Reviewer in Internet Retailers Magazine

written by Lanae

Internet Retailers
Internet Retailer Magazine recognizes the Internet Merchants Association (IMA) to give reviews in their ‘9th Annual Recognition of Leading Retail Web Sites – Hot 100 Best Retail Web Sites.’

Alongside various retail and e-commerce consulting firms, IMA gave its reviews on a number of the Hot 100 websites. These ranged from technology to gift baskets, and hardware to housewares. Among the Hot 100 are Amazon and CafePress, both of which are quite familiar to many of our members.

Not only was it an honor for the IMA to contribute, but it can also be a learning tool for our members…each one of us could learn something from those that make up the Hot 100. As noted in the magazine it is about knowing your customers, utilizing new concepts, and creating great shopping experiences. Perhaps one day we will see some of our own members there.

The list can be found here… Internet Retailers