Opinion

How to reduce cancellation and return rates of ecommerce orders?

A returned or cancelled order might not look much on the surface. But these can affect a business. So, what can you do to minimise the damage?

Saahil Goel
20th Mar 2019
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Customers barely consider what happens when they return or cancel an order. But for a seller, these cancelled and returned packages are stuff of nightmares. Such packages directly inflate the operational expenditure without generating any ROI (Return on Investment). On ecommerce platforms, a returned or cancelled order is also followed by a negative review, which bears its brunt on the overall rating of a seller.


So, if you are an online seller wishing to minimise your returns and work towards eventually eliminating them, here are a few tips that will assist you in the process:


Send out crystal clear information

Write a thorough product description that delves into all of the specifications of your product. It will help the buyer in making an informed decision. It can include physical specs, distinctive features, the utility of the product, and how to use the product among other relevant aspects.


Product Images

Product images play a significant role in the online purchase decision as it is the only way a buyer can inspect a product in detail. Thus, product images must be of high quality and suitably taken from every angle possible. They must justify the product description and enable the buyer to understand it.


Check and recheck inventory

Out of stock products lead to a delay in delivery, ultimately causing higher cancellation rates and cart abandonment. For this reason, you must keep track of your inventory to avoid such scenarios. Also, estimate your sales regularly and forecast your inventory requirement accordingly. This practice will offer you a better insight into your stock and help in updating your website.


Customer testimonials

Customer reviews directly increase the overall credibility and reliability of your product. It gives the buyer an overview of others’ opinions about the product. So, if a buyer had earlier returned a product because he encountered limited usability of a product, his subsequent review can help in preventing orders from customers who would be ordering merchandise for the same use case. Hence, you could reduce the chances of further return orders.


Check with the customer before shipping a high-value COD order

It is imperative to confirm a customer’s availability to receive an order before shipping a high-value COD order. A COD order results in substantial losses and inventory-related bottlenecks if a customer is not available to accept it. Therefore, be prepared and fix a slot with the customer beforehand.

From your historical data, if you’re shipping even a low-value product from an area having a high rate of return orders, confirm the order and delivery method with the buyer on email.


Process shipments on time

Try to process your orders as quickly as possible. Coordinate with courier partners and complete order processing at your end as fast as possible. For instance, if the courier partner is delivering the order in 2 days, try to finish packaging in a day or less to provide faster shipping.


Display expected date of delivery

The anticipated date of delivery gives the buyer a chance to plan the order. If the buyer needs the order quickly, he or she will not make the purchase, and customer satisfaction will not get affected. Keeping the process as transparent as possible helps the buyer make a smarter purchase decision and enables the sellers to reduce their return orders.


Partner with a shipping platform to provide maximum coverage

A single courier partner cannot offer comprehensive coverage across the country as it cannot reach all pin codes owing to fleet size, fulfilment processes, and so on.


Avoid COD on custom-made jewellery, food,

Food is perishable. It puts you at the risk of incurring a loss of the entire face value in case of a return. Keeping the money and inventory stuck with a current order also makes you lose future orders. Same goes for custom-made jewellery with orders tailored for the customer. Thus, avoid providing COD feature on such shipments.


Validate the pincode, address, and phone number

Before shipping any order, check if the phone number provided by the buyer is correct. The delivery executive must not have any problem contacting the buyer. Also, the pincode must be valid, and the address must not be fake. Always tally these necessary details.


Invest in expedited delivery

Expedited delivery is a mode of shipping that helps in delivering the product within 1 to 2 days. Most users search for expedited shipping to receive their products faster. Expedited delivery mechanism can help you reduce the chances of eventual returns.


Engage with buyers post shipping the product

Make sure to keep the buyer in the loop at all times. Keep them informed about the whereabouts of their product with regular email and SMS updates. You can also send images and videos of the product in emails while telling the buyers about their shipping. It helps in retaining them even after a product is shipped.


Use organic methods for procuring and social networking sites for remarketing COD orders.

But, if you offer COD on certain products, you must avoid marketing them on these sites. It has been observed that most impulsive shoppers shop via social media platforms such as Facebook. Thus, to avoid RTO, try and market products through Google and organic means and using Facebook for remarketing it to customers who’ve already purchased.


Ensure communication between courier executive and buyer. Share the details of your courier executive with the buyer to avoid any confusion regarding:


  • The buyer not being home
  • Phone number not being reachable
  • Incorrect address
  • Buyer not being ready with cash


This information will considerably decrease your return orders.


The key to reducing order cancellations and returns lies in ensuring that you adopt the tricks mentioned above of the trade and monitor the results that will surely follow.


(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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