Monday, January 19, 2015

How to Reduce Returns on eBay


Returns are a fact of life on eBay. Even if you do not offer returns, anything you sell is covered under the eBay Money Back Guarantee which states,

"Get the item you ordered or get your money back with the eBay Guarantee.If the item isn’t exactly what you ordered, eBay covers your purchase price plus original shipping on virtually all items."

An issue that I see with consulting clients is a large number of returns.Sellers sometimes get hung up on doing "damage control" for their large number of returns (like applying a restocking fee), rather than looking at the reason for the returns. So, let's be solution oriented here. If you are getting a lot of returns, it might be an issue related your product, your policies, or something you can improve on your listings. Here are some issues that sellers can correct or change to avoid returns.

1. Always include measurements on anything you sell. Clothing definitely is difficult to sell without measurements. Buyers may not take the time to ask for measurements and move on to another seller. And if they take a chance and buy clothing from a listing without measurements, they will return it if it doesn't fit. Also measure everything else! Buyers may be shopping for home decor pieces to put in a certain place, a collectible to display in a specific spot, or any item they need for a specific purpose.

2. Handbags and cell phone cases are high return items. People use these as fashion accessories and change them out like they change shoes. The younger crowd has figured out they can buy a handbag or cell phone case on eBay, use it for 2-3 weeks, and return it. Stay away from those items. (Plus, both can be fake and put your account at risk. Not worth it.)

3. Make sure the item works and all parts are included, especially if you are selling on consignment or find it second hand. I learned my lesson on this one selling photography equipment and musical instruments a few years ago. 2 different consignment clients assured me that their items worked find and all parts were included. I don't know anything about cameras or musical instruments so I didn't know how to verify - and sure enough - I had returns on both items because either they didn't work or pieces were missing. Know your product. The customer (and eBay) doesn't care if you are selling it for somebody else - ultimately it is your responsibility and your account at risk if something goes wrong. (Join my Seller Consignment Directory here.)

4. Take lots of pictures and write a thorough description. I often work with clients using eBay mobile whose objective is to list as many things as fast as possible. This is the kiss of death for an eBay business. You want to make sure the customer understands EXACTLY what he is buying from you. This is even more important if there is a defect or flaw on the item. Now with eBay's defect system, if a seller receives too many Item Not As Described (INAD) cases, the account can be shut down. Slow down, take your time, and write thorough descriptions and invest time in taking 8-12 photos per item. You will have fewer returns and your account will remain healthy.

5. Take time to authenticate. I stopped selling items that require authentication because I don't want to spend my time doing that chore, and frankly, there are 100 gazillion things you can sell on eBay that bring a good profit and don't require authentication. But, if you want to sell designer items, high end jewelry, autographed items, art, etc., it is wise to have these items authenticated. eBay is the final authority on this issue so it doesn't really matter if you know the item is authentic - you need to provide proof. Also, the customer can accuse a seller of selling a fake, or even worse, pull a "switch-eroo" and return a counterfeit item in place of the authentic one they purchased from you. Lots of reasons to stay away from items that must be authenticated.

6. Item arrived damaged. Take your time and package the item carefully. There are lots of good videos on YouTube that show how to correctly package an item for shipping.There are equally as many bad ones, showing how to shove way too much in to a flat rate mailer. Use common sense. If it shakes, it breaks. Again, you are ultimately responsible for how the customer receives the item. If shipping through eBay, you automatically get $100 of insurance on Priority packages. Purchase insurance if necessary beyond that. The customer will win a dispute if they receive a broken or damaged item. Take the proper steps to protect yourself.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons a customer might return an item that are beyond the seller's control. Do what you can to prevent returns and keep your account healthy. I can help evaluate your store and listings to see if there are ways you can reduce returns:

eBay Store Review - I will review your listings, return a written report, and provide 30 days of email support to help you get your store on track.

Related Articles:

3 Ways to Authenticate Designer Items Before Selling on eBay

Understanding eBay's Defect Rate

21 Ways to Boost eBay Sales


Unknown said...

Unfortunately, you did not address the return reason " I found a better price elsewhere"!! I believe this option SHOULD NOT be offered to eBay customers!!! It is not fair to the sellers, if a customer does not do their research beforehand. Why do the sellers have to suffer for their laziness? I have been selling for over 13 years, and so far have had less than a handful of returns. This is why I say in my return policy to contact ME first, before sending items back. Usually I let them keep it or throw it away if it is damaged. Sandy - Sandy's Collectibles and More

Suzanne A. Wells said...

Hi Sandy,

Thanks for visiting my blog. No, I did not address the issue of "found better price" because that is out of a seller's control. I tried to focus on ways eBay sellers can improve their product line or listings to reduce returns.

See the end of article where I wrote:

"Of course, there are plenty of reasons a customer might return an item that are beyond the seller's control. Do what you can to prevent returns and keep your account healthy."

Ree Cee said...

Thanks for this post Suzanne. I'm a new seller on eBay. There is always something new to learn.

I have a few (used & vintage) purses/bags that I haven't listed yet. It never occurred to me that people would use and then return after a few weeks. I may put some in my antique mall booth and test a few on eBay.

I totally agree on taking lots of pictures and writing a good description. I buy a few things on eBay and if I see two pictures and a two line description, I move on.

I try to be solution based too. Some blogs point the finger or play the blame game at customers. I appreciate that you remind us to see if there is something we can do with our listings to help ourselves, knowing that as a seller that returns are just a part of business.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.