E-commerce has quickly become the preferred method of shopping for customers. Although it has opened up new opportunities for merchants by being a customer’s favorite due to its convenience and speed, it also has a major disadvantage – a high rate of product returns. In the United States, for example, the average return rate for online purchases was 30% in 2020, compared to 8.9% for physical stores. This is due to the fact that the e-commerce industry faces a variety of costs, logistics, and different customer demands.

However, the impact of this disadvantage can be mitigated by implementing efficient methods. There are various ways to reduce the return rate of your online store and improve customer retention and loyalty. Here are five simple measures you can follow to control this phenomenon:

1. Pay special attention to product descriptions

Provide accurate and detailed information about the products. One of the main reasons customers return online purchases is that they do not meet their expectations. To avoid this, make sure to provide clear and precise product descriptions, specifications, features, and benefits. Use high-quality photos and videos that showcase the product from different angles and setups. Include user reviews and ratings that highlight the pros and cons of the product. If you have an online fashion store, you can offer the virtual fitting room service. Based on AI, this functionality allows customers to visualize how the product would look on them before placing an order.

2. Offer low-cost returns

Another reason customers return online purchases is that they do not want to pay for shipping and returns. Although it may seem contradictory, many of them prefer to return products and buy from a seller who offers free return services. According to a report by GPeC, 70% of online buyers want the return process to be free. Additionally, if you offer free or low-cost shipping and return options, customers will be encouraged to make more purchases.

3. Implement a clear and flexible return policy

According to the same GPeC report, 66% of respondents mentioned the ease of the return process as one of the criteria in their decision to shop online. A study conducted by UPS.com reveals that the same percentage of online buyers check the return policy before making a purchase. To reduce the return rate of your online store, ensure you have a clear and flexible return policy that outlines the terms and conditions, the period, methods, and fees for returning items. Your return policy should be clearly communicated on your website, in confirmation emails, and on packaging materials. Additionally, offer multiple ways for customers to initiate and complete a return, such as online forms, phone calls, emails, or chatbots.

4. Analyze feedback (even negative feedback)

To lower the return rate of your online store, you need to collect and analyze customer feedback. Only by doing so can you identify and address their issues or concerns. Fortunately, there are numerous channels from which you can collect data: surveys, reviews, ratings, comments on social media channels, or interactions with customer service colleagues. And a tool like Google Analytics will help you measure key indicators: conversion rate, bounce rate, cart abandonment rate, or repeat purchase rate. This way, you will constantly improve the perceived quality by customers.

5. Reward loyal customers and encourage repeat purchases

Nothing motivates customers to buy more and return less than a reward. This way, you reward loyal customers and stimulate occasional ones. You can use loyalty programs, referral programs, discounts, coupons, free gifts, or contests to show your appreciation and recognition to your customers. By reducing the return rate, you can increase the retention and loyalty of your online store’s customers.


The five methods mentioned above are just a few suggestions to help you control this unpleasant phenomenon that your online store may encounter. We all know that returns are inevitable in the e-commerce industry, but they should not overwhelm your logistics and finances. Therefore, it’s essential to respond to the needs of your customers, especially since this rate, combined with customer interaction analyses, can provide you with insights into the profitability of your business and what you can do to develop it.