Understanding and navigating the ecommerce returns landscape in India

Returns pose a significant challenge for ecommerce businesses in India. Depending on various factors such as payment methods, product categories, and seasonal fluctuations, online order returns in the country can range between a substantial 25% to 40%*. This figure brings a significant impact, leading to increased operational costs, decreased customer satisfaction, and potential loss of sales for online businesses. 

Here, we’ll delve into the intricacies of high ecommerce returns in India. We'll examine the causes, their effects on businesses, and outline some effective strategies that could help mitigate the impacts, improve customer loyalty, and reduce the overall rate of returns. 

Firstly, let's investigate why Indian customers are returning their online purchases. The reasons vary, but common ones include: 

  • Size and Fit Issues: Online shoppers, particularly in the fashion sector, often find that their purchased products don't meet expectations in terms of size or fit. 

  • Product Quality and Defects: Sometimes, items can arrive damaged, defective, or of subpar quality, perhaps due to inadequate packaging, mishandling, or lack of rigorous quality control. 

  • Change of Mind: Impulse buying, buyer's remorse, or discovering a better deal elsewhere can lead to a change of heart, especially for COD (cash on delivery) orders, which see a higher return rate than prepaid ones. 

  • Product Mismatch: Occasionally, customers receive products that differ significantly from their online depiction, prompting returns due to mismatched descriptions, images, or reviews. 

Returns can inflict substantial harm on ecommerce businesses: 
  • Heightened Operational Costs: Return processes can escalate operational expenses, including shipping, handling, inspection, repackaging, and reshipping of returned goods. 

  • Slower Inventory Turnover: Returns slow down inventory turnover, as returned items may take longer to sell or even become obsolete. 

  • Decreased Customer Satisfaction: A frustrating return experience can dent a business's reputation and loyalty, resulting in customer churn. 

To mitigate returns and bolster customer loyalty, consider these practices: 
  • Precise Product Information: Detailed, accurate product descriptions, images, and videos can help customers make informed buying decisions, reducing the chance of product mismatch. 

  • Flexible Return Policies: Offering customer-friendly return policies can reassure shoppers, boosting their confidence and reducing second thoughts about their purchases. Make it easier to return items by using solutions such as Ezi Returns’ label portal

  • Enhanced Product Quality and Packaging: By ensuring products meet quality standards and are well packaged, businesses can decrease returns due to damage or poor quality. 

  • Data Analytics and Feedback: Understanding customer behaviour, preferences, and needs through data analytics and feedback can optimise your product offerings, pricing, promotions, and recommendations. 

  • Partnering with a Reliable Reverse Logistics Provider: By working with a trusted partner like Ezi Returns, businesses can efficiently manage their returns. Ezi Returns offers end-to-end services, including pick + pack, inspection, quality checks, repackaging, storing, and reshipping of returned items. They can help reduce return rates by ensuring accurate product information on seller websites.

In conclusion, while ecommerce returns are a part and parcel of online business, they can be effectively managed. With precise product information, flexible return policies, better quality control, leveraging data analytics and feedback, and collaborating with a reliable reverse logistics provider like Ezi Returns, businesses can minimise ecommerce returns and improve customer loyalty in India. 

*Sources: Statista, Instamojo