5 common reasons for returns and how to avoid chargebacks

Mariluz Sampalo
Mariluz Sampalo

Jun 12, 2023

customers decide to make returns for a number of reasons

Inside this article

  • iconWhat are the main reasons for returns?
  • iconAvoid chargebacks in 3 ways
  • iconConclusions
  • Let's talk about the exciting world of product returns and the reasons behind them. There are plenty of reasons why people hit that return button: From the wrong size or product to late delivery or defective items, without leaving behind wardrobing, all these are day-to-day common scenarios in any eCommerce business.

    Serial returners as well as justified returns — those due to a damaged item or a lousy description — all have a spot and need to be dealt with. After all, there's nothing worse than an angry customer. So go ahead and manage all return reasons like the leading brands of the industry with our tips. Your CFO will thank you.

    What are the main reasons for returns?


    Serial returners buy items with the intention of using them once or twice and then returning them. Typically, this is a common practice in the fashion industry. Customers find that they can save money without compromising on trends or investing in occasion wear, but it can result in increased costs for the retailer.

    Once these items are returned, it can be seen that the item has been indeed worn and would need to be disposed of. As a result, retailers may need to raise prices to make up for losses due to wardrobing.

    Some retailers, on the other hand, choose to increase the return fee, set in place strict return periods or add special tags that need to be taken off in order to use the product.

    pretty little thing uses return tags to prevent wardrobing

    While these policies may inconvenience some customers, they are designed to protect the retailer and prevent the abuse of the return system.

    To further protect your business, you can also create a blacklist for all those buyers that made or tried to process fraudulent returns and disable automatic returns for all customers in the list.

    Wrong item size

    Around 25% of all footwear and apparel sales in the world take place online according to CBRE. After reading this, it’s no surprise that the wrong item size is one of the most frequent reasons for returns. The fact that customers can’t try on the product can mean that the item comes out to be too big, too small, too long, too short, etc.

    Having a straightforward size guide available for each of your product types is the best way to ensure minimum returns due to this, but there are other ideas that can help.

    You can for instance state that the item runs big, small, wide, or has a specific cut right on the product page, so all customers can figure out in a glimpse how the product will be, without even checking the size guide (which they may never check). Smart fitting tools can be also offered, so that they can visually see how it will look on them based on specific measurements, their skin colour (if it’s make-up) or their face, in the case of glasses.

    The following reasons for returns can be easily fixed and totally don’t depend on the customer. When the right processes are set in place, there’s almost no room for error and, when communicating with the customer, won’t impact their level of satisfaction.

    Wrong order or product

    The customer received the wrong product, the wrong colour, or a size they didn’t order. The solution to this problem is easy: a picking and packing process that is error-free and as automated as possible. This ensures that you send the right SKU to each customer, every time.

    The number of unnecessary returns that will be processed due to this will be reduced to virtually 0. Outvio is the perfect tool for this as it speeds up the fulfillment process while it lowers its costs and keeps warehouse efficiency at its best.

    Sign up now to supercharge your eCommerce.

    Defective item

    When a customer returns a defective item it means that something went wrong in the quality control process or, most likely, that the item was shipped in good condition but was damaged during the shipping process.

    In this case, what you need is the right packaging for your eCommerce. One that protects the items without impacting your profit margins too much.

    Arrived too late

    Definitively another reason why many customers decide to return an item is that it arrived later than expected.

    With the current consumer trends in place, being able to shorten shipping lead times as much as possible should be one of the top priorities of any eCommerce.

    In this sense, another beneficial practice to implement that contributes to fewer returns is keeping the customer informed about the status and location of their parcel. This is fairly simple and automated with Outvio. Sign up now.

    Avoid chargebacks in 3 ways

    The cost of returns can be a real nightmare for retailers. There are many ways to reduce it: from optimizing the product page to automation through return rules and in-store returns. However, there are still ways that can help you retain those unhappy customers and their profit: 

    1. Disable automatic returns for certain return reasons

    The attack is the best form of defence. It may sound aggressive, but opportunistic returners make up for a huge portion of fraudulent returns and make an impact on your profits.

    Moreover, the burden of tracking the return, and checking items and their management also takes time and space from your warehouse employees.

    You can easily disable automatic returns for serial returns and make them request the return so it’s manually approved (or not) in order to deal with opportunistic clients in a way that is legal and protects your brand.

    2. Promote exchanges over returns

    One of the easiest and simplest ways to keep the profit you made from the first purchase and make the customer happy at the same time is by promoting an exchange instead of a (full) refund.

    The money that could have been totally lost will be kept in the online store. A way to make the suggestion as subtle as possible is to offer the same item in another size, colour or print (if available) or to leave the buyer to choose freely what to buy.

    You may have launched a new collection or there may have already been another option as to what to buy when the buyer made the first purchase. Now could be the perfect time for them to get it.

    3. Offer a generous bonus in in-store credit 

    Offering a gift card for them to continue to spend on your store may be the win-win situation that your customers are looking for. When they make a purchase for a value of €44, you can offer an instant “refund” of €50 in the form of a gift card or make them wait some days to receive the same amount they spent.

    While it is unavoidable that some will choose the refund over the store credit, your loyal customers, those that should interest you the most, will be happy to earn some extra credit to spend in your online store.

    Customizing the return and exchange process in every single way is only possible with Outvio. Only with Outvio’s Smart Return and Exchange rules will you be able to promote exchanges over returns, offer a bonus in in-store credit to reduce the number of refunds, and enable and disable automatic returns and exchanges for certain products.


    Returns are just another part of doing business as a retailer: wardrobing, sending the wrong item — we know, mistakes happen but they could as well not happen —, deliveries that don’t make it on time, and damaged or defective items.

    Nothing puts a damper on a customer's experience like receiving a product that isn’t what they were expecting. 

    Offer hassle-free returns and exchanges and make the process as painless as possible for the customer. That’s the key to retention and customer satisfaction. By this time we’re sure you know that customer retention is less costly than customer acquisition.

    Ensure they have the best possible shopping experience with Outvio and make the reasons for returns a reason not to worry, thanks to the chargeback solutions you can easily implement with our software. Try it now!