Returns are inevitable, especially with online retailers. However, an interesting tidbit: A recent study found that between 15 and 40 percent of all online purchases end up being returned. The overall return rate is 10.6 percent when including brick and mortar stores. Returns can make or break a business.

Retailers can take steps to minimize return requests. If you have an ecommerce site that sells apparel, for example, you are likely going to have higher return rates than sites with home goods. Your ecommerce site can lead the fight against returns by assisting the consumer in making better buying choices. This can be done by using vivid product descriptions, life-like product photography, and easy checkout methods. Once you are confident in this area, it’s time to look at your order fulfillment operations.

The fulfillment operations team can help online retailers reduce return inquires and be more proactive with the returns process. Here are a few must-have practices in order fulfillment to help lower the rate of return:

  • Measurable KPIs across every area of fulfillment
  • Updated inventory levels
  • Accurate picking and packing operations
  • Strict quality control measures with your suppliers
  • Incentives for your warehouse team to improve the company return rate
  • An easy returns process to retain customers (who will then be familiar with your product, resulting in fewer returns!)
  • Faster shipping times