Reduce returns with kickass content


Submitted by Lori.Montgomery - May 01, 2019

I admit, I hesitate to make certain online purchases if I can’t return to a local store or the return shipping isn’t free. I realize it’s not fair to expect free shipping and free returns, but thanks to giants like Amazon, the general population has nearly declared it the norm — 79% of consumers want free return shipping and 62% of shoppers are more likely to shop online if they can return an item to a store. Returns will never go away. People change their mind, the item doesn’t fit or they simply ordered the wrong thing; however, some returns (and the added expense) can be completely avoided with improved product content. Here’s how:

Leave NOTHING to the imagination

Go above and beyond with pictures, videos, comparison charts or A+ content if you’re on Amazon. Your product descriptions should leave nothing open for interpretation. According to a Salsify study, 87% of shoppers rate product content as extremely or very important when deciding to buy. They’re hanging on every word, every image. It’s their only reference point. Make sure your specs and the descriptive terms you use are precise.

Keep a pulse on reviews

Back in the day, before ecommerce, marketing research firms would charge top dollar to organize a panel discussion for the purpose of getting feedback about consumer products. While focus groups are still a valuable research tool, customer reviews are a much cheaper alternative…as long as you pay attention to them. If you don’t, you could be losing money in returns. Take for example this review:

“I’m so disappointed with these curtains! They are good quality and pretty, but they are NOT 56” wide. A set of 2 is 56 inches wide, making each panel 28 inches. The description is very misleading.”

Poor product content resulted in a bad review and likely a return. Luckily, if you’re tending to your reviews, you can update your description and avoid future disappointment. Never ignore customer reviews!

Put on your customers’ shoes

Always remember your customers have had no physical contact with your product. Seems like a given, right? But, it’s actually easy to forget. You’ve developed and/or sourced your products, so naturally your perspective is different. Turn the table and become the shopper when writing content. What would you look for or ask questions about if it were a face-to-face transaction in the store? What product features would you notice if you could touch, see or smell the product? Good content addresses all of these sensory cues to create as close to an in-store experience as possible.

Check your facts

Product descriptions should be written with all the honesty and reality you can muster up. 50% of shoppers have returned an item they bought online because it didn’t match the product description. Whether you’ve inadvertently misled your customers or stretched the truth in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience, the end result is the same — a disappointed customer, possibly a negative review and likely a return.

In the U.S. alone, Statista estimates return deliveries will cost $550 billion by 2020. Returns are inevitable and changing such consumer behavior is impossible, so do what you can to make sure your product content isn’t contributing to the problem.

Source:, Salsify, Statista.