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How to Reduce Online Returns and Avoid Incident Fees

You can't run a successful online business unless you know how to handle customer returns. Shoppers trust eCommerce sellers to ship their products correctly and on time, but returns and exchanges are unavoidable.

On Tophatter, eCommerce returns incur Incident Fees on your seller account. These fees cover the cost of the return but will also indicate where your eCommerce strategy needs some improvement.

Understanding why customers return products is the fastest way to avoid Incident Fees.

So why do online shoppers return products in the first place?

  1. They received the wrong size.
  2. They received the wrong product variation.
  3. The product didn’t match the photo or product description.
  4. The product failed to meet their expectations.
  5. They no longer want the product.

 

When your products fail to meet your customers' expectations, there are a few steps you can take to optimize your product listings and reduce the number of online returns you're seeing on your monthly payout receipts.

 

Top Five Ways to Reduce Online Returns


1. Leverage Your Product Photos

Help your customers see themselves with your products by demonstrating functionality or variation in color and style. Items with many variations, such as an apparel item with different sizes and colors, should be showcased in multiple ways so customers can quickly see what's available.

Apparel is a popular category on Tophatter, and our top sellers use product photos that showcase the myriad options customers have to choose from:

leverage product photos

Remember, sizing is different in the US than in other countries. Make sure to include a size chart, when needed. Most importantly, your product shots show exactly what the buyer will receive.

Using photo-shopped images —especially for clothing and electronics —could result in a high amount of Incident Fees.

 

2. Update Your Product Descriptions

Shoppers don't want buzzwords. Your customers want to know exactly what they're bidding on, so make your product descriptions as accurate as possible.

You can use our product description templates right here to get you started.

Just like you leveraged your product photos, you can do the same with your product descriptions.

 

3. Organize Inventory by SKU

This might sound tedious, but having SKUs for each variation of your product can really reduce eCommerce returns. SKUs help you track inventory by type, attribute, color, or however you wish to organize it.

For example, this seller is using SKUs to organize the variations of their best-selling bracelet. The purple bracelet comes with different variations for different occasions:

track inventory by SKU

Each variation would have its own SKU. The parent SKU is Bracelet_Purple and the variation SKU is Bracelet_Purple_Bride. This way, sellers can quickly know which bracelet to send to the buyer.

If each variation of your product has its own SKU, you're less likely to ship customers the wrong item. You can also use the SKU to track items, ensuring they are being delivered on time so you can avoid Incident Fees.

 

4. Don't Sacrifice Quality Just to Meet Your Bottom Line

According to Statista, half of online shoppers are dissatisfied with a product's quality when they receive it. The product often doesn't match the description and is sometimes a lower quality item than they originally purchased.

This happens most often in the electronics category, as you can see here:

negative online product reviews

Shipping items overseas is expensive, especially when eCommerce sellers are offering free shipping. But shipping a lower quality item will only cost you more in Incident Fees and possible account suspension. 

At Tophatter, we expect sellers to ship the item shown in their product photos. We have eCommerce solutions to teach sellers how to use a free shipping formula and avoid Item Not Received Fees and more on their account.

 

5. Learn from Your Mistakes

It's impossible to meet every expectation of every customer, but understanding why customers are returning your items can help you avoid Incident Fees in the future. 

Have you read our Education Series on the Incident Fee Page breakdown yet?

Your Incident Fee Page stores a wealth of information and gives you insight into some of the reasons why customers are requesting refunds or returning products.

It could be an error in your product listing or in your shipping process that led to the customer return. Log into your seller account to see your own Incident Fee breakdown.

Once you know why the return happened, you can use the solutions in this blog to fix your listing and avoid another Incident Fee. 

 

Tophatter is here to help you learn how to reduce eCommerce returns and more modern eCommerce solutions. We're giving away resources all summer long. Sign up for our newsletter so you never miss a blog in our Tophatter Seller Education Series.

 

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