5 Ways to combat international returns

Product returns can be a huge challenge for eCommerce businesses, especially for international customers. While returns are inevitable, there are a number of things that can be done to combat international returns, which will reduce their occurrence and the effect they have on your business.

We have listed the five best practices that you should be following, which will help you to reduce international returns.

1. Understand local laws and cultural norms

While there are the obvious language barriers, as an international seller, you will need to be mindful of how cultures, attitudes and buying behaviors differ across marketplaces.

As an example, consumers in Germany tend to have a higher returns rate, and in France there is a Consumer Law which gives buyers the right to withdraw and obtain a refund on a purchase within 30 days. In addition, consumers in the US typically expect a 45-day returns policy with no questions asked, as well as free shipping for returns. The fact is, regardless of which overseas market you are selling to, it’s crucial that you conduct thorough research, so that you’re prepared to sell to that country.

2. Make order processing simple

Ensuring that your orders are picked and shipped both accurately and efficiently, is one of the best ways to reduce international returns.

As your business grows, and you start to sell across multiple channels, the risk of human error multiplies. This is because it becomes difficult to manually manage your orders, which can lead to a customer being sent the wrong product, the package being delivered to the wrong address, or later than expected. For this reason, it is integral that you are considering the use of an order and inventory management system like Linnworks, which can help you to automate order processing and fulfillment. With the automation tool, you can view and manage all of your orders, from all channels, on a single screen.

3. Use a reliable shipping provider

Choosing a reliable shipping provider should be a key focus when selling overseas, for the simple reason that their performance is a reflection on your company. With a significant number of services available to you, it is crucial that you are confident they can deliver your goods efficiently and professionally, and meet your customers’ expectations.

When selecting an international shipping provider, make sure that you’ve assessed their flexibility with delivery options – this will enable you to offer a choice of services, which will cater for different customer needs. It’s worth reading reviews, to get honest insights from other sellers, like yourself. Make sure that the shipping provider has experience in your chosen marketplaces. Consider using this simple shipping checklist to monitor their performance.

4. Provide detailed product listings

Failing to accurately describe your products is a sure-fire way to increase return rates. With this in mind, use high-resolution images that accurately represent the product and include a detailed description with measurements, materials and any other key information that your customers will need. Since one of the main reasons for customer returns on online fashion stores is a poor fit, why not go one step further and include model height and clothes size, so that the customer can make better judgements on sizing. Anticipate your customer’s needs by clearly defining your returns policy on your webstore and in your marketplace listings.

5. Align customer support team with inventory partners

Providing your customers with accurate information on the status of their parcel is paramount. eCommerce businesses need to be confident that their customer support teams have open and efficient lines of communication with external vendors for inventory and fulfillment. Your support team should be able to confidently inform and assure customers of the status of their package from the moment it leaves the warehouse until it reaches their address. A reliable service teamed with effective communication will do wonders for your brand reputation.
The bottom line is, you will have to deal with international returns, but you do have the power to reduce the rate of returns.

xSellco and Linnworks co-hosted a webinar on ‘How to handle returns on international marketplaces’

Watch the Video