Best practices to reduce eCommerce returns costs for businesses

best practices to reduce return cost

While we all know returns are a part of running an eCommerce business, sellers must always be on the lookout to reduce the costs associated with returns to stay profitable. To help you with an end-to-end guide on how to reduce return costs, here are some best practices to reduce your eCommerce return rate and increase customer loyalty. 

Your e-commerce returns policy should be easy to find 

Whatever your return policy may be, it should be clear, easy to read, and easy to find on your website. Whether it’s an FAQ section or a clearly laid out web page, you should include prominent links that make your eCommerce return policy easy to find on your web and mobile site. 

Having a return policy that’s clearly worded and easy to find builds trust with your customers and leaves less room for frustration as they figure out when and how to make returns. This trust can lead to increased sales.

Include clear deadlines in your e-commerce return policy 

Even though your e-commerce return policy was an important part of the buying decision, most of your customers didn’t expect they would have to return something.  Don’t make your policy so dense that an advanced degree is required to make sense of it and do give a deadline, so your customers get it done. Don’t hide your deadline in the fine print; state it prominently, in bold type in more than one place on your returns page. 

A clear e-commerce returns policy that sets expectations for the time period during which customers can return an item allows your customers to understand what’s required of them in the returns process. They are less likely to blame you for a return that goes wrong if they know your return deadline in advance.   

Accept e-commerce returns via shipment or in store, if you have one 

Not everyone has both an e-commerce shop and a brick-and-mortar store, but if you do, you’ll get a big benefit in customer satisfaction when you allow buyers to make e-commerce returns at your physical location. 

Many of your customers prefer to return in-store, so give them that option. Plus, an in-store return is an opportunity for an upsell. More than two-thirds of customers will buy something else when they come in to make a return. When a customer returns one product, you can show them why another might be better, and you might even convince them to make that purchase. 

Make return labels easy to print 

When you provide an online portal that makes returns easy, you save time for both you and your customer. Let customers view their orders and select which items they are returning. From there, it should just take a click to print a return label. 

By making the return process simpler, you help your customers make their returns more quickly and with less hassle. Faster returns also mean quicker turnaround for you. By giving your customers the incentive to quickly and easily return a product, you spend less time with a reduced inventory. That allows you to get your merchandise into another customer’s hands more quickly. 

In addition, an online returns process protects you from return fraud. Some customers will try to take advantage of returns by claiming that everything is in the return box when it isn’t. Others may be confused. To overcome these issues, create a return list showing all the items being sent back. Ask your customer to print the list and put it in the box with the returns.

Deploy a third-party solution that helps you prevent returns in the first place

Returns can be frustrating and demoralizing, but once you deploy a solution that prevents a return even before an order is placed, things get much better. Saara’s returns reduction solution performs AI-powered product tagging and fixes any listing inaccuracies so that shoppers get the right information about the item before placing an order. This reduces the chances of a return by almost 50%. Moreover, paying attention to reviews on your website and analyzing the return reasons can help you understand your return trend better.

Illustrate your returns process 

Make your policy easy to understand with graphics, icons, and images. In addition, graphics give cues to help your customers easily understand how returns work on your site. 

A well-designed page about your returns policy is a chance to make a human connection with your customer. Graphics play an important role in creating that connection. You can even use graphics to inject a little humor into an otherwise dry subject. 

Understand the laws governing returns 

Your e-commerce return policy isn’t just a good business practice – it’s the law. Under US federal law, you must accept back merchandise that is defective. In addition, customers have three days to change their minds about products that cost at least $25. Additional state laws may also apply to your returns policy. Save yourself embarrassment and the appearance of being shady by keeping on top of the latest legal requirements for e-commerce returns. 

Re-engage customers 

Don’t consider a return at the end of the line with your customer. That customer was interested enough in your business to place an order; there’s a good chance you can lure them back. After a return, re-engage with your customer to keep the relationship alive. 

Quality inspection 

Use solutions such as Saara that enable you to quality inspect the item right at the customer’s doorstep. If the logistics partner finds no defects on the item, a return can be avoided, thus preventing the additional cost of shipping the product to the warehouse.  


Effective returns management, especially in an eCommerce or multichannel business, requires technology. If returns are a pain point in your organization, you are at the right place. Get in touch with us and take your business to newer heights!

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Impact of eCommerce Returns on Climate Change

According to reports, it is estimated that there will be 2.14 billion global online shoppers in 2021 and that nearly 30% of all orders purchased online are returned as compared to 8.89% in brick-and-mortar stores. When looking at these numbers, have we ever thought of the impact such a large volume of returns can have on our climate? Each returned package leaves behind a trail of emissions from the various types of carriers it travels in, be it trains, planes, or trucks that carry it back to the manufacturer/seller.  

The fumes that come out as part of the emissions are usually made up of three main components: carbon dioxide, nitrogen gas, and water vapor. Several potentially more toxic gasses are also included in most cases which can make the emissions — sometimes also called “exhaust”— much more harmful and making them one of the major causes of global warming and climate change. Not just this, many of the returned items which are either defected, damaged and cannot be reused in any form head directly to a landfill.  

Ecommerce sellers often send things back to the manufacturer that they can’t put up on sale again, or they unload it to other companies who sell it at discount prices. Wherever the unwanted purchase goes, more trucks and other vehicles are pumping out more planet-warming carbon emissions and other harmful gases in the air to take it to its destination.  

While eCommerce is booming across the world, the environmental problem is worsening with the rising number of returns.  

Did you know that hauling around returned items in the USA creates over 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in a year? Yes, you heard that right. This is more than what 3,000,000 cars might emit in one year.  

Then there’s the trash. Nearly 5 billion pounds of returned goods end up in US landfills each year. Even if something was in good condition when the buyer put it in the mailbox, shipping it back can damage the item. Sometimes retailers realize that throwing out a returned item is the most cost-effective way to deal with the thing, instead of paying for it to be cleaned, repaired, and returned to the shelves. Landfills are filling up with packaging waste from eCommerce, too. 

How to Reduce the Impact of Returns on the Climate as a Responsible eCommerce Seller? 

As an eCommerce business owner, here are a few things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of the returned products- 

  • Allow your customers to keep a product that cannot be resold so that you can eliminate much of the waste it would create from carbon emissions to landfill waste. Offer your customers interesting refund options (such as store credits), instead of them having to ship back a return. 
  • Gain your customers’ trust. Let them know when a product cannot be resold and that returning it will create an environmental impact. By keeping a transparent conversation, you build trust between your customers and your brand. 

Here’s a free guide to how to reduce ecommerce returns and help the earth survive!

How to Reduce the Impact of Returns on the Climate as a Responsible Buyer? 

Fortunately, buyers are now more conscious of their purchases and returns when it comes to the environmental impact. Here are a few things that a customer can do to reduce the impact on the environment- 

  • Return items sooner. Waiting until the last minute to send something back increases the chance that the item won’t go back to stock for resale and will end up as a landfill waste. 
  • Try to take the item that you want to return to the logistics center yourself, instead of just parceling it. 
  • Make a shopping list before you start your purchases. This will help you in ordering just what you need, instead of buying several items with the intention of returning them. 

The number of products being returned is increasing day by day as eCommerce is booming. According to the National Retail Federation, eCommerce has a higher return rate of up to 30% as compared to other kinds of purchases such as consumer electronics, auto parts, etc.  

ECommerce companies have been offering hassle-free returns options to their customers, which in turn has led to people buying things just to try something out and return it later. 

Companies that have encouraged these changes in the consumer behavior can take steps to minimize returns and make the process less harmful when someone does send something back. For one, they can make sure that the way they market their items online is true to what the product is like in real life. Giving more detailed information on sizing for apparel is helpful, too. 

We, at Saara, help eCommerce businesses with AI-powered product tagging and resolve listing discrepancies so that customers see the right product description before purchasing. As customers are well-aware of the product they are buying, it reduces the chances of return by almost 30%.  

When all of us together take responsibility, there is little we cannot do. Every small step and every small initiative go a long way in protecting the environment and making it greener. Reduce returns by up to 30% using Saara and contribute to a greener planet. 

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