Practical Ecommerce

How to reduce customer returns, refunds and resentment

If you can reduce returns and refunds, you make more money! Here are my tips from my business and personal consumer experience.

1. 100% money-back guarantee

When you shop online, you probably don’t buy products from unfamiliar companies, without a 100% money-back guarantee. You might be reluctant to offer this as you risk giving full refunds if they’re unhappy but then you’ll fast discover what’s going wrong, whether it’s unrealistic photography (see number 3), order details (number 4) or packaging problems (number 5). By implementing this guarantee, you’ll fix the product/s quick smart, and reassure the customer prior to purchase. They can’t go wrong!

2. True-to-life-size photography

I once ordered a pretty sterling silver “dice” bracelet from a website for my sister-in-law’s 30th birthday, where the dice-size cubes could be customised with the initials of family members. But the photo was not true-to-size, so the dice were actually matchstick-head sized; I could not read the initials. The seller said she had provided the dimensions but not a life-size photo but unfortunately I’m one of those people attracted by imagery, not the wording. It arrived two days before Juliette’s birthday and I had no time to get her something else. In other circumstances, I would have asked for a refund. Last month, we had the same thing happen with a wine offer, where the sample-size bottle was shot probably six feet in front of the standard size to suggest they were the same size. We were too embarrassed to ask for a refund, but many would not be.

3. Contact details

Online merchants don’t necessarily need to provide a Freecall number, but they should provide all contact methods on the Contact Us page. I avoid buying from websites which won’t mention the business owner’s name and provide contact details. A quick phone call can help solve purchase queries quicker than any email and therefore reduce the likelihood of returns or refunds.

4. Multi-page checkout to check details

Listing the customers’ order details on several pages before checkout, helps them notice and fix any mistakes before they’ve ordered. I worry that a one-page checkout option doesn’t give me enough opportunity to check the order details.

5. Packaging

This was an expensive lesson for me to learn! Originally I sent my hardcover astrology reports via Express Post, without any protective packaging. Then I received some complaints the reports were dented, and had to replace these so I began using bubblewrap envelopes. I still received a couple of complaints that the reports were mildly dented, so I then wrapped the report in a thick cardboard sleeve, which then went into the bubblewrap envelope. Hey presto, no more replacements.

6. Get their feedback

Send customer surveys within two weeks of the order. It’s enough time for them to have used it, if not opened it and you can quickly identify from their comments if they’re unhappy with it in any way. I used the feedback from the testimonials to upgrade the packaging and the paper and introduce a second colour, after receiving complaints about pink covers for boy babies. I also recontacted every one of those customers who had made their comments to let them know I’d followed their suggestions which they really seemed to appreciate.

7. Testimonials

Collecting testimonials will reduce your returns, too. If they agree, include your customer’s full name, suburb/town and state with their review, for greater credibility, and for SEO. Plus, the sheer quantity of testimonials proves the majority of customers are very happy with their products and gives prospective customers confidence.

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