As an experienced Amazon seller, I know firsthand the major impact returns can have on your business. While some returns are inevitable, a high return rate eats into profits and can even jeopardize your seller account.
The good news is that with the right strategies, you can significantly reduce your Amazon return rate. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll share 8 proven methods to lessen returns based on my decade of experience selling on Amazon.
By implementing these tips, you can save thousands in refunds and fees, keep more of your hard-earned profits, and build a thriving, sustainable business on Amazon.
Why You Need to Reduce Your Amazon Return Rate
Let‘s start by looking at some key stats on returns:
- The average return rate in ecommerce is around 30%
- Amazon‘s overall return rate is around 18%
- For apparel, Amazon return rates range from 30-40%
- Electronics see return rates around 14% on Amazon
As you can see, returns are common across all products, especially in online retail.
While Amazon‘s customer-centric policies allow easy returns, as a seller this directly hurts your bottom line. High return rates lead to:
- Loss of revenue from refunds
Reverse logistics costs to process returns
Lower profit margins
Hit to your seller performance metrics
Possible account suspension if metrics drop
In fact, the impact of returns is staggering. According to a 2018 survey of Amazon sellers:
- 60% said returns decreased their profit margins
- 72% reported labor costs due to processing returns
- 39% saw increased advertising spend to recoup sales
With numbers like these, it‘s clearly essential to focus on reducing returns as much as possible. The good news is that with some effort, you can achieve a significantly lower return rate.
Take shoe and apparel seller MERI MERI for example. By optimizing their product detail pages and imagery, they lowered their return rate from 40% to just 13% in under a year.
In this guide, I‘ll share the most effective strategies, based on my experience managing over $10 million in Amazon sales. With the right systems and processes, you can minimize returns and maximize profits.
8 Proven Ways to Reduce Your Amazon Return Rate
Let‘s dive into the 8 most impactful steps you can take to lessen Amazon returns:
1. Craft Accurate Product Listings
The first touchpoint for customers is your product listing. To set proper expectations, your listings should include:
- Precise dimensions, sizes, and colors
- Fabric, materials, or ingredients
- Comparison to similar products
- Full description of features
- Warranty and guarantee information
- Item condition (new, used)
- Any warnings or disclaimers
Thorough listings prevent returns from customers who received something different than they expected.
I recommend keeping a checklist of key details to include for every product you list. For apparel, sizes and fabric are especially important. For electronics, specs like storage, battery life, and connectivity are vital details.
2. Wow Customers with Amazing Photos
High-quality photos are essential for conveying what a product truly looks like. Use images showing:
- The product from multiple angles
- Close ups of details like stitching, buttons, or settings
- Different color and style variants
- Products used or worn (for apparel)
- Comparisons with common objects for scale
- Packaging and included accessories
With apparel, I advise shooting flat lays, hanging, and modeled images to depict drape, fit, and detail. For electronics, unboxing and usage photos reduce returns. Let customers see products from all sides to set expectations.
3. Invest in Professional Product Videos
While professional videos are not required, they greatly boost engagement and sales. Some key benefits:
- Demonstrate product features and capabilities
- Provide a 360 view not possible with photos
- Show scale and details not visible in still shots
- Convey a lifestyle and emotional connection
A 30-60 second video can help customers evaluate a product and prevent returns from impulsive purchases.
From my experience, investing $300-500 per video pays for itself many times over by reducing returns. Apps like Animoto make it easy to create polished videos yourself.
4. Monitor and Respond to Questions
Customers often have questions before deciding to purchase. Being responsive builds trust and avoids misunderstandings.
Options to handle pre-purchase inquiries:
- Email – Set up a support email buyers can contact
Live chat – Chat apps provide real-time conversatons
Phone – A dedicated customer service line works for complex products
No matter the channel, assign staff to provide prompt replies within 24 hours. This level of service impresses buyers and gives them confidence to purchase without hesitation.
5. Package Items Securely to Prevent Damage
Damaged items are a primary reason for Amazon returns. Use these packaging best practices:
- Choose appropriately sized boxes with extra room
Use ample bubble wrap and air bags as cushioning
Place fragile items in center of box surrounded by padding
Reinforce seams with tape and use reinforced tape if needed
Include packing slips and invoices
Review packaging after issues to identify improvements
Going the extra mile on packaging reduces frustrations for customers and shows you value their business.
6. Dig Into Your Return Data
Analyzing return data regularly provides insights to guide improvements. Specifically look at:
- Return rates by product
- Reasons cited for returns
- Any seasonal spikes in returns
- Frequency of returners
Identify problem products with higher than average return rates. Spot trends around sizes, colors, or descriptions to pinpoint issues. Use insights to tweak listings, product quality, packaging, or service.
7. Consider Partial Refunds to Make Amends
For unhappy customers with buyer‘s remorse, a partial refund of 25-50% is better than refusing the return. It still holds the customer partially accountable yet appears gracious.
Studies show 96% of customers whose issue is resolved by a company will purchase again, compared to only 33% when unresolved. A fair partial refund can save the relationship and improve return experience.
8. WOW Customers and Drive Loyalty
Going above and beyond with world-class service earns loyalty and reduces returns. Tactics like:
- Handwritten thank you notes
- Surprise free gifts
- Usage tips by email or video
- Exclusive offers and sales
- Seeking product feedback
When customers feel genuinely appreciated, they go out of their way to keep shopping with you. The lifetime value of loyal customers is worth far more than random one-time shoppers.
What Happens When You Reduce Amazon Returns
By consistently executing the best practices outlined above, sellers see tremendous benefits:
- Increased profit margins from fewer refunds/logistics costs
- Improved account health metrics like ODR to maintain account privileges
- Higher lifetime value through retained customers and repeat purchases
- Lower operational costs through streamlined returns process
- Ability to confidently scale selection and inventory
While the strategies take effort to implement, the long term rewards are well worth it for your business‘ health and profitability.
On the flip side, sellers who ignore returns or kick the can down the road eventually face major problems. Excessive returns result in wasted advertising spend just trying to break even. Low margins leave no budget to grow the business. And worst of all, suspended accounts leave you with no business at all.
Take the time now to install processes that minimize returns from the start. This sets your business up for sustainable success on Amazon.
Recap and Next Steps
The bottom line is that with the right systems in place, you can significantly decrease your Amazon return rate. In this guide we covered:
- The major impacts of high return rates
- 8 proven strategies to reduce returns
- The many benefits of lower returns
While you can tackle this yourself, specialized help can accelerate the process. After optimizing hundreds of Amazon seller accounts, my team at Seller Interactive has developed a customized roadmap to lower returns.
Book a free consultation with me to discuss your return situation and how we can implement tailored solutions for your business. Just one 20 minute call can provide game changing insights.
Don‘t let excessive returns siphon thousands from your profits. With expertise and effort, you can achieve return rates well below Amazon average. Now go delight your customers, and let your bottom line reap the rewards!