Why optimize your e-commerce return rate and how to do it?

Why optimize your e-commerce return rate and how to do it?

The e-commerce return rate refers to the proportion of products ordered and received by the customers before being sent back to the e-merchant due to cancellation

A recent study showed that in 2018, 45% of the French online buyers have returned a product bought online. That is why return management represents a major logistics challenge for e-merchants. 

Why is it essential to optimize your e-shop return rate? How to decrease the number of returns? Discover all the answers in this article.

Why is it important to optimize your e-commerce return rate?

According to the French law, any online purchase implies a 14-days withdrawal period. The customer can return his products without having to justify for it and the e-merchant must accept this return. However, return fees should be charged to the online buyer - the law says.  

In this respect, every e-merchant has to set-up a return management policy. A high return rate can directly impact the business and image of an e-shop. 

Here are 3 good reasons to optimise your e-commerce return rate: 

1. Save money and time 

Product returns can quickly turn into a money pit: on top of the shipping cost of the first shipment, you’ll have to consider the cost of the second shipment as well as the time spent handling the parcel (processing, packaging, return to stock etc.). Besides, many e-merchants decide not to charge the customer for the return fee, which is an additional cost to consider. 

Optimizing your return rate will allow you to cut back on your logistics costs. Less returns also necessarily rimes with more time!

2. Increase customer satisfaction and experience 

A product returned means that your customer was not satisfied with the purchase. If you want to reduce your return rate, make sure to understand why your customer wants a withdrawal after receiving the order. 

Looking into those reasons will provide you with some insightful inputs to understand how to optimise your customer experience. Upgrading in terms of customer experience will result in an increase of customer satisfaction. 

3. Alleviate your mental workload by avoiding disputes and litigations 

Being an e-merchants already raises a lot of issues and implies accomplishing a lot of various tasks: product design, website creation and optimisation, marketing, accounting etc. Managing your customer returns on top of that will require you to deal with dissatisfied customers and to find solutions to settle the disputes

Optimising your return rate will relieve you from those concerns and thereby save you a great deal of time and worry

How to reduce your e-commerce return rate ? 

A number of strategies can be used to reduce as much as possible the number of withdrawal and thereby improve your return rates. We selected a few for you.  

1. Use explicit product descriptions which includes several pictures  

In order to avoid frustration and disappointment from your customers, make sure to set up clear product pages. Uploading various pictures of the product from a variety of viewpoints as well as a complete and detailed description of the product’s characteristics will reduce the risk to sell a product that will not fit your customer’s expectations. 

And obviously, the more the orders received will be in line with the customer’s demand, the more your return rate will decrease. 

2. Question your customer on the reasons of the withdrawal 

By specifically requesting your customer to provide you with feedback on his dissatisfaction, you will be able to identify the lever for improvement for the future orders. You could ask your customer for feedback whether by email or via a return form in which he would have to tick the box corresponding to the reason for the return.  

By adopting those behaviours, you will place yourself in a continuous improvement mindset that could result in a decrease of your return rates.

3. Check the product before shipping it 

To avoid any mistake, it is crucial to check the contents of each package before shipping it. Are you about to send the right product? For instance, if you are shipping an item of clothing, carefully check the size of the article and its colour to avoid picking the wrong item. Product condition is also something to be thoroughly inspected.

Routinely carrying out those checks will reduce the number of errors and thus the number of products returned. 


A broken or damaged product will necessarily result in a refund or the shipping of a new product. To avoid this kind of situations, we recommend you to protect your product inside the package by using cushioning material and by choosing the right box. Do not hesitate to operate some “crash tests” to test and validate the resistance of your packaging. 

If all the products shipped arrive safe and sound, you should witness a drop in your number of returns.

5. Comply to your SLAs

Some clients want to receive their orders quickly: if you do not comply with your SLAs, your customer might not need the ordered item anymore or cancel the purchase and thus return the product. 

Th is important to offer Express delivery methods and to work with the best logistics partners to be sure to meet the delivery deadlines.

6. Outsource your logistics

You can choose to outsource all your logistics activities with a 3PL and benefit from its experience. 

At Cubyn, we take care of the storage of your products, the picking, packing and shipping of your orders as well as your returns management. Our solution automatically chooses the best carrier depending on the characteristics of your orders in order to offer you the best quality of service available.

In addition to the time gained, outsourcing your logistics is a great solution to reduce your e-commerce return rate.

Following the tips provided in this article should allow you to drastically drop the number of returns and make some savings on your logistics bills.   

Improve yours customer's experience today!

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