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E-commerce returns: useful statistics and data to avoid them

E-commerce returns are a big issue for merchants. When a customer decides to return a product, the e-commerce have to manage the costs of the return, making sure they have the right personnel to do it and taking into account that they will have to put it back on sale or withdraw it from the inventory.

Returns can generate losses: these data can therefore help you to avoid them and to have greater benefits

However, it is not possible to exclude an attractive offer or a product from the possibility of return, because online customers need certain guarantees to decide whether a website is reliable or not. Knowing that they can return a product if they are not satisfied encourages them to buy. 

So today we will analyze the return rate of online purchases and find out how to reduce this figure and increase your earnings at the end of the year. Let’s see. 

Return rate by country

If you want to expand your business and avoid extra expenses, being aware of the return rate by country fundamental.

Taking the US market as an example we can see that, according to Statista, e-commerce returns will leave to online stores an invoice of about 490 billion euros in 2020. A figure that leaves anyone stunned.

Analyzing the return rate by country of last year in Europe, we can see that Germany is first on the list: 53% of German online buyers returned at least one product.

A fairly high number considering that most of the time, it is the e-commerce that bears the return costs.

But in the UK we are not far behind. With 40%, we occupy the fifth place on the list.

In the following graphic, you can see the 8 European countries that registered more users returning an item. Keep in mind that the figures indicate the percentage of total buyers who returned a product. 

E-commece returns. Percentage of population, in different European countries, who returned an item after buying it online during 2018.
Graphic via Statista

E-commerce return rate by industry in 2019

The statistics reflect that fashion items and accessories are the most returned products in European countries with an average return rate of 19%, while films and DVDs are the least returned ones. Spanish consumers return nearly double the average rate of home electronics.

In the UK, the return rate of clothing and footwear stands at 19.9% and that of electronic products at 6.2%.

In the following graphic, you can see the percentages of the most popular returned products in Europe.

Main reasons for online returns

There are thousands of reasons behind e-commerce returns. Every customer is a world in itself and every buying and selling experience is unique. However, we can see that certain reasons are frequent in online returns. 

In general purchases, usually, customers decide to return a product because:

  • in 59% of cases, it arrived with some defect or damaged
  • 42% of customers changed their mind
  • 29% of buyers pointed out that the description did not reflect the actual characteristics of the product
  • the remaining part for other reasons

Implement the best techniques to avoid returns in your e-commerce

To avoid being part of the return figure in e-commerce you should analyze how your current return process. To do this, you can implement the best techniques to avoid e-commerce return.

These are the four most important points you have to focus on.

1. Improve your return policy for online purchases

Your return policy for online purchases is the first thing you have to improve. Good return policies in e-commerce should be visible to users. So make sure to place yours well.

Another point you should keep in mind is the adaptation of the return policy to your sector and your target audience. The return process for e-commerce that sells soaps will not be the same as one that sells books.

When doing so, be sure you explain to buyers what they can expect from your business in terms of returns. The text must resolve all the doubts a potential customer may have.

Use a simple language and get to the point. It has to be a plain and informative text that can be read quickly.

Finally, train your team so that they know how to manage returns and resolve any errors that may occur in the process.

2. Analyze your return offer

To reduce returns, customers ask for a versatile delivery method. Choose a fast and effective one.

Another thing that customers value is that your return offer is clear and transparent. Explain precisely what you offer and how you manage returns.

Customers also want options to return a product, so be sure to offer at least two alternatives. 

3. Locate the serial returners

Professional e-commerce returners, known as serial returners are users who, on a recurring basis, return their purchases. So locating them can help you improve your return offer.

To do this, you will have to establish a system that allows you to monitor the activity of these customers. With this, you can locate them and notify your customer service team for research.

If they confirm to be professional serial returners, you can exclude them from benefiting from offers such as free return or having their purchase reimbursed.

4.Use software to automate returns

Software to automate returns will help you manage the process more effectively. You will do it in less time and reduce the number of errors. By using it, you can also reduce the operating cost of the return and focus on sales to increase your income. 

With this software, you can customize the returns to adapt them to each situation, integrate your return portal on your website, facilitate the printing of labels and analyze the reasons why customers return the products. 

ShippyPro Easy Return

Learn how to turn e-commerce returns into new purchases

With this data, you can turn e-commerce returns into new purchases.

If you know how to manage the return process and resolve customer problems and the reasons why they decide to return a product, there will be the possibility that customers make another purchase, becoming returning customers

Start immediately to improve your return policy thanks to the statistics of the e-commerce return rate. Make your return process efficient and transparent and increase the loyalty of your customers.

ShippyPro Team

ShippyPro is the complete shipping software for online and offline retail. With Label Creator, Track & Trace, Easy Return and Analytics features, our software simplifies your shipping operations. ShippyPro integrates with over 170 carriers and 60 sales channels, making it compatible with a wide range of products and use cases.