10 Ways to Reduce Unnecessary Amazon Returns
By employing these tactics into your Amazon listings, you can reduce the number of unnecessary Amazon returns that are typical of holidays and sale events.
Holidays and Amazon sale events are always a double-edged sword for many Amazon sellers—they make high sales, but wish they could reduce the number of Amazon returns that cut into their profits, especially in the fourth quarter. Particularly during the holiday season, many sellers have “return-maggedon” to look forward to from December through the end of January.
As many of you know from the Amazon Returns Policy, it can cost you quite a lot as a third-party private label seller to accommodate an overflow of products being shipped back to your holding facility, whether it’s a warehouse or one of Amazon’s FBA facilities.
Why Do So Customers Return So Many Products After Holidays and Big Sale Events Like Prime Day?
For the e-commerce community, product return rates can range between 20% to 40%, sometimes as much as 50% for some industries right after Christmas. There are a variety of reasons for Amazon returns to spike during the holiday season and Prime Day; many are legitimate reasons (think wrong or damaged product) while others are due to the lack of seeing the product “in the flesh” to make the critical buying decision.
One significant advantage that brick-and-mortar stores have over Amazon is the ability to satisfy the senses to influence the decision to buy a product. Customers can not only see the item, but also feel its texture, smell its material, and taste a sample if it’s a consumable product.
Based on sensory data alone, most customers can make a wide range of judgments about a product, including the following:
- Perceived value
- Quality of construction and materials used
- Affirmation of reviews on the product
In the online environment, ineffective Amazon listings often leave too much to the imagination and force the customer to make knee-jerk judgments based on nothing more than a single image of the product and a short description that may be full of too much marketing jargon.
Clothing apparel and consumable goods have long suffered from a heightened rate of Amazon returns due to the multi-variable issues that arise such as sizing, dimensions, and dissatisfaction derived from the customers’ senses.
How Can I Reduce My Amazon Returns?
Fortunately for most sellers, there are many workarounds to help curb the anxieties many customers may have about their products between seeing it online, purchasing it, and then being disappointed enough in some way to demand a refund.
Here are 10 ways to help you decrease Amazon returns and encourage your customers to be satisfied with their purchase:
1. Very Detailed Product Description
Not only is having a robust product description good for SEO, but it will also help your customers get a better sense of what they are buying. The last thing you want to have is a product description that is all fluff and no substance.
Use this opportunity to list out all the qualities of your product instead of salesy marketing terms such as “Amazing product” or “You’ll love it” (let your product ranking do that for you).
Instead, opt to tell customers every substantiated detail about your product, including things like:
- Product dimensions
- Sizing and color options
- Materials used in construction
- Where the product was manufactured
- What materials were used to make the product
- Warranty information and satisfaction guarantee
- Link to Return Policy
- Answers to common FAQs
- Expectations and instruction on the use of the product
By adding more relevant details to your product description, your customers will appreciate the transparency and will imbue you with more trust. This confidence can very well influence them to make the purchase and resist the “Amazon returns syndrome” if it matches the detailed description of your product.
2. Exact Product Dimensions in Primary Image
For customers who are very visual and will immediately associate their purchase with the primary image you use for your product, it is helpful to include the exact dimensions of the product pictured. This information can set the expectation for the customer so that they are not unpleasantly surprised by the physical attributes of your item. These details are particularly useful for products that can vary in size, shape, and measurements such as clothing and packaging.
3. Sizing Guide
If you have a line of products that are similar under one brand but vary in their qualities (size, shape, measurements, color, accessory options, etc.), providing customers with a chart or guide to all possible combinations of your product can help set expectations before purchase.
Be sure to include exact numerical values so customers can perform their own measurements at home to choose the product variant that best suits their needs.
How you create your sizing guide depends on what kind of product you are selling.
For example, if you are selling a hoodie sweatshirt, there are many measurable variables to account for such as overall size (small, medium, large, etc.), neck size, sleeve length, chest width, and torso length just to name a few. However, if you are selling a tub of Play-Doh, the dimensions of the bucket and the weight should be factors you include in your guide.
If you are having trouble coming up with a product guide, then consult with your supplier on what variables they use in creating your product.
4. High-Quality 360-Degree Imagery with Variety
You’ve probably heard that using high-resolution product photography to represent your product visually on your Amazon listing is critical, but what about multiple photos from different angles? On Amazon, products don’t have a “good side” because, in reality, your customers want to see ALL sides of the product: front, back, top, bottom, and all sides.
This 360-degree view of the product provides critical visual information to customers, so they have a better sense of what they are getting. If your products don’t necessarily have multiple “sides” to photograph, then close-ups of particular features, attachments, or accessories serve as good alternatives to give your customers the full scope of your product.
Even if your product comes in different styles or colors, those would also be useful choices to show off with high-quality photography.
5. Product Video
While product videos are relatively new to Amazon, including a professional promo video of your product on your listing page can give your customers the information they need to decide to buy and to stick to it.
A video can perform the duty of your photography, description, and marketing all at once, giving customers a look at the following:
- A full look at the product from all angles in motion
- A full description of the product in text form or with vocals
- A full explanation of the product’s features and how it works
Much like other video advertisements, these Amazon promo videos will be unique to your product and are possibly your most significant tool in giving your customers an experience that satisfies their sensory needs to witness the product in action.
6. Buyer’s Product Guide or Quiz
If you are unable to craft a video detailing the features and functionality of your product, a buyer’s guide may be your next best tool in helping customers find the best product for them. Describing the functionality of your product (or its variants if applicable) in a comprehensible infographic, chart, or table can help your customers decide if it satisfies their curiosity and requirements of the product.
Alternatively, creating a questionnaire for the customer to answer is often an efficient and fun way to gather information about customer needs and providing a suggestion based on the data provided. Social media websites have seen great success with quizzes, and they can be created quite easily and hosted on your own site (another great opportunity to drive traffic to your website).
For example, let’s say the choices are A, B, and C variants of your product. You create a quiz that asks a few questions and gives a result based on the multiple-choice answers chosen. The finding derived from the customer’s responses to the questionnaire suggests that they purchase A, B, or C in accordance with what needs were stipulated.
The benefits of using a quiz are that you have a) given your customer a viable choice that best suits their needs and b) engaged with them and provided a valuable experience that they will remember.
7. Customer Reviews
You don’t have to do all the talking; let your previous customers talk for you! Customer reviews will often address common questions and issues that new customers may have regarding your product. You can often pin the reviews that are the most helpful to new customers to the top.
Customer reviews are also an excellent source to know what you are getting right and wrong with your listing so you can continually improve the buying experience.
8. Offer Customer Service in Real Time
If customers have questions right now that are not addressed in your product listing, providing an avenue in which to ask those questions is an efficient way of alleviating anxieties of buyer’s remorse that lead to product returns. Having a live chat system in place can go a long way to helping people be satisfied with their purchase.
You can set up a live chat system on your own website or use Facebook’s chat service to talk with customers through social media. Your expertise provided at a moment’s notice will make you appear more accessible and boost your customers’ buying confidence.
9. Gather Customer Data on Product Return Rates
Data is the foundation on which all decisions should be made, so making a conscious effort gather as much of it as you can make all the difference. Tracking customer product returns trends can be as useful as discovering any other new pattern in that it will save you money and stress in the long run.
Some of the questions you should be looking to answer include the following:
- What products are being returned (if multiple products are offered)?
- What product is returned the most (if multiple products are offered)?
- What is the principal reason for returning products?
- How much time passes between the initial purchase and when the customer asks for a refund?
- Are products returned more often during a particular time of year (such as the holiday season)?
- Do specific customers return products more often than others?
By keeping a record of data relating to questions like this, you can begin to conclude where the system snags to cause Amazon returns for your product. You can also start segmenting your target audience further, identifying those who have legitimate concerns about your product and shipping methods to inspire change on your end.
Additionally, you can determine which customers are “chronic returners,” or people who return things without ever having the intention to keep them, so you can stop targeting them with deals and discounts.
10. Ask for Customer Feedback
Perhaps one of the most apparent and most straightforward methods of getting to the bottom of the product returns problem is asking your customers about it. There are a few ways you can ask your customers directly for feedback about product returns:
- Ask in the Refund Email – This request for information can be piggybacked off any refund confirmation email you send to customers after they have initiated a request to return your product. Customers can write out their reasoning in long form, or you can link them to a multiple-choice survey to give you quick data.
- Poll Your Customers – This option may require you to incentivize customers to participate, so rewarding customers who complete the survey with a discount or promo code may suffice. Since you are not attempting to sway their opinion, it shouldn’t violate any ethics to offer something in exchange for their views. Send out the invitation to participate as you would promotional email to your loyal customer base of which you have their contact information.
- Encourage Customer to Contact You – Simple linking to your “Contact Us” page in strategic places on your product listing under a “let us know how we are doing” context can be a free form of feedback.
Do you have any useful or ninja methods for reducing your Amazon returns, especially during the holiday season? Let us know down in the comments!