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 Networking – How Much Time Do You Spend?

written by Snorkeling Online

Can we agree that there is 24 hours in a day. And lets hope that we get at least 6 hours of sleep and we work a minimum 8 hours a day. That leaves us 10 hours a day to spend with family & friends, get dinner, run errands and the other fun stuff that is required of an adult.

As an online seller, an online retailer, how many hours a day are you being social? How many hours a day are you spending on the Internet Merchants Association forum?

Ok, I admit, I am not on Facebook yet (though I have to get this done, I need to keep an eye on Burne who is very dear to me and who I highly respect). And I am not twittering, tweeting, twit, twat… whatever the lingo is. Why? Because I heard that this new social media is addictive. I understand that it is important for my business and will focus on this first, but socially, with your friends, how many hours a day do you spend chatting, not on your e-commerce business?

I am not judging, just curious…

E-Commerce Shopping Cart Abandonment

written by Cathy, VisibilityUnlimited.com

I was talking to a friend tonight and she mentioned that she had a very high cart abandonment on her website. Experts say that ‘high’ is anything over 20% and if your shopping cart is higher, it would be to your financial interest to figure out why.

So I did a little research and found the reasons for consumer cart abandonment. But the number 1 reason is because of high shipping charges.

Other reasons consumers abandon e-commerce shopping carts are because they want to:

  • compare shopping with other internet shopping sites
  • lack of money to spend
  • research for coupons for your site
  • shop offline
  • you don’t offer their choice of payment
  • out of stock at checkout
  • you do not offer support
  • concern of credit card security
  • Because this is such a wide discussion, today I am only going to talk about high shipping charges. So how do you fix this issue? Well the obvious solution is to adjust your shipping charges. Can you revisit your costs and negotiate a better rate with your shipping company. Crunch your numbers folks, get your shipping charges in line with your competitors. This is a very important step to online selling.

    Another idea is not to surprise your customer with the charges and have an ‘estimate your shipping charges’ program on your main site, so your customer does not go through the troubles of checking out and then realize that the shipping charges are to high. There are programs (or you can have one written), that shows you who left their shopping cart and you can see if you can save the sale with a phone call or email. Check your shopping cart software to see if they offer either option. I have also seen with companies that have pop up boxes that you can offer a % discount after they bail on your site, just to sway the possible customer come back and complete the sale.

    Is FREE shipping expected to consumers? In this economy, it doesnt hurt. Online consumers are not expecting free shipping on every product but they are expecting reasonable shipping charges. You don’t have to offer free shipping for every sale, put a dollar value on it and watch your sales increase.

    Because your e-commerce site is so important to you, have outsiders (family, IMA members, customers) go through your checkout process and let them be brutally honest with what their opinion is, as a consumer, and let them tell you what is wrong. It can only help.