If you’re struggling with customer returns, you aren’t alone. According to Shopify, the average eCommerce return rate is 20 to 30%. That’s a big chunk of sales that you’re unable to capitalise on. But what’s the solution? In this article, we’ll explore five simple ways to minimise eCommerce returns. 

Why are customers returning products? 

First things first, what’s causing your customers to return products? Answering this question is essential if you’re to prevent future returns. 

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Of course, generally, there isn’t one single issue that causes customers to return their purchases. There could be a multitude of issues that make customers unhappy with their product, such as shipping the wrong item to a customer, a product being faulty or damaged, the item not matching the details or images displayed online, a product arriving late and no longer being useful to a customer, or users buying items with no intention of keeping them. 

Additionally, businesses also face challenges like inventory shrinkage, where stock exists in their accounting records but is missing from their current inventory. Addressing these issues is crucial in reducing returns and enhancing customer satisfaction. 

Of course, staying on top of these many different issues is difficult. There’s no way of predicting customer complaints. But by improving customer experiences, you not only reduce the chances of returns but also demonstrate you care about shoppers. This is a vital factor when looking to stand out in the crowded world of eCommerce. 

5 ways to minimise eCommerce returns

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of why customers are returning their products. But what can you do to minimise eCommerce returns? Here are five methods that should help you.  

1. Check your product page 

The right product page can improve customer experiences and maximise sales. But the wrong design can confuse or even mislead shoppers. 

First, take a look at the product images. Do they accurately depict the product? Product images should be an exact match with the item you’re selling. This means you shouldn’t be using any stock images. They might look good, but customers will be disappointed if their product bears little resemblance to what was advertised.  

The way you present your product is also important. Low-resolution images won’t give customers enough information. Similarly, a single image might not be enough to give an accurate impression. If a product has multiple components, ensure these are clear in the images. 

Finally, check the product description. Does the copy tell you everything you need to know about a product? Most importantly, does the description give any false information? This is a sure-fire way of annoying customers and potentially landing yourself in legal trouble. 

Instead, opt for a clear and concise copy. Avoid confusing the customer with complex language, and try to paint a clear picture. Check the manufacturer page for accurate details related to size, colour, and materials.

2. Improve the quality of packaging

Businesses often spend a great deal of resources on projects such as hybrid cloud integration. After all, it’s important to upgrade internal processes and provide better customer experiences. But in doing so, it’s easy to overlook other equally important aspects of business. Your product packaging is a prime example of this. 

Product packaging provides two benefits. Firstly, it can ensure that a customer receives your product in a pleasing way that enforces your brand identity. Most importantly, however, is that packaging protects a product from knocks or drops. Often, the main reason that customers receive damaged products is because the packaging is not up to scratch.

Look for durable and robust options that will give your products the protection they need. Of course, the kind of packaging required will differ depending on the item. We’ve explored some of the options below. 

  • Foam packaging suits higher-value items and is an excellent choice for products that have an irregular shape. This form of packaging helps to stop items from moving and getting damaged during transit. It is, however, unsustainable and should only be used on certain products. 
  • Compostable bags are a good choice for transporting clothing items. Some packaging, like polymer, can bring an unpleasant smell to clothes. Compostable bags help to ensure that items remain odourless. They are also a much more eco-friendly option, helping to boost your green credentials. 
  • Cardboard is a tried and tested solution. It’s an excellent choice for packaging items like CDs and DVDs. Cardboard packaging can match your branding and be custom-made to fit most products. 

3. Enhance customer service 

Strong customer service can help to reduce the number of eCommerce returns. On many occasions, customers might think they have an issue with their product. In reality, however, they’ve misunderstood how to use or activate a certain feature. In this situation, they can ring customer support, who will give them advice. 

Unfortunately, however, it often isn’t as simple as this. Customers ring support, but instead of getting assistance, they’re forced to wait in long queues. Sometimes, when an agent does answer the phone, they don’t have the knowledge to help. Customers feel frustrated and unsatisfied by an organisation’s ability to help, eventually resorting to returning a product. 

To address the problem, make sure that agents are well-versed in the items that you stock. Ensure that support is made aware of any common complaints and has solutions for dealing with them. 

Additionally, think of methods to reduce the strain on your support team and the time spent queuing. For example, DID direct inward dialling ensures that customers reach the support they need without entering an extension. 

Another option is to introduce AI chatbots to deal with customer queries. Introducing chatbots helps queues so that customers with complex queries reach agents more quickly. 

4. Promote product exchanges 

When a customer returns a product, it’s usually because an item is faulty or doesn’t fit their needs. A product exchange helps keep customers satisfied and is less damaging than a refund. Customers either get a replacement of their original order or another product that meets their needs. In this scenario, your business keeps the revenue from the original sale. 

Alternatively, instead of a refund, you could offer in-store credit. If you go down this route, you should clarify to customers that you don’t offer cash refunds. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of unhappy buyers. Offers on discounts for future purchases can also help to placate customers. 

However you handle your product exchanges, remember that customers should feel that their issue has been addressed. Leaving customers feeling cheated is a surefire way to lose shoppers. 

5. Gather reviews 

There’s a reason that many eCommerce businesses are keen to gather as many reviews as possible. Positive reviews act as fantastic social proof, pulling in customers and widening your outreach. Even negative reviews can be useful; you can address complaints and improve experiences. 

Reviews can also be a way to minimise ecommerce returns. They provide buyers with additional context about products. This way, shoppers are less likely to feel disappointed when their order arrives. 

Be transparent with the way you present your reviews. Don’t avoid displaying negative feedback, even if it is extremely harsh. A system that allows shoppers to filter negative or positive reviews is helpful to customers. It’s also important that you consider the needs of all by increasing the accessibility of review pages. 

Make the process of submitting reviews as simple and quick as possible. Ensure customers aren’t restricted to leaving reviews on PC and can submit via their phones. If users are confused about the process, consider using VNC screen recording to record a tutorial on how to leave reviews. 

Don’t forget that customers may need a little encouragement to leave reviews. Why not take some of the following steps? 

  • Begin by asking – As the expression goes, “don’t ask, don’t get”. Some customers will be happy to leave reviews if you request them in a friendly manner. Try to explain why reviews are important to you and other customers. 
  • Personalise your messages – Whether they’re being contacted through email or SMS VoIP, Customers like messages that are tailored to them. They’re more likely to respond favourably if you address them by their name. 
  • Offer incentives –  Discounts or freebies can be fantastic ways of incentivizing reviews. If you go down this route, make sure to lead with your incentive in the email subject line. 

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Product returns can slowly eat away at your revenue. But while they’re unavoidable, they can be reduced. We’ve explored five methods to help ensure customers get a product they’re happy with. Let’s recap: 

  • Boost your product page with high-quality images and a well-written product description. 
  • Choose robust packaging that suits your products. 
  • Enhance customer service with improved voice calling technology and AI. 
  • Offer product exchanges as an alternative to cash refunds. 
  • Gather as many reviews as possible so shoppers can make more informed purchases. 

In five simple steps, you can improve customer satisfaction and reduce eCommerce returns. So, why not put these points into action?