10 Ways to Improve Your Item Return Rate on eBay

With eBay’s recent introduction of service metrics and peer benchmarks, it has never been more important for sellers to reduce return requests. In addition to being forced to accept ‘item not as described’ returns under eBay’s Money Back Guarantee, sellers will also now be penalized for having a high amount of these return requests in comparison to other sellers. Concerned? Read on for ten tips to help reduce return requests on eBay.

Inspect used or refurbished items carefully before listing

Defects and damage should be included within the listing description to best inform potential buyers of the item’s condition. Not always obvious, look for small imperfections or hidden defects that may not be seen on first glance. Remember that broken or damaged items do still have a value and consistently sell on eBay.

Don’t sell commonly returned items

One of the most straightforward ways to lessen your return requests on eBay is to avoid selling categories of items that are commonly returned. High value, in-demand items such as electronics are one of the biggest targets for scams. Other items, such as designer handbags and formal wear, are often purchased and used for a specific event before being returned.

Authenticate designer items

It is illegal to sell counterfeit items. If unfamiliar with designer brands (particularly handbags), consider using an authentication service to assess items first or avoid these categories altogether. Note that it is also against eBay rules to compare or reference brands in a listing if the item is not that specific brand. Doing so is misleading to buyers and can lead to unrealistic expectations.

Always include measurements

No matter the type of item, always include measurements of the item. Be specific and double check that all measurements are accurate. It can often be difficult to estimate from photos how large or small an item is. Including a coin or other common item in the photo is a common way to show scale.

Know your items

Sellers who are informed and knowledgeable about their items are more likely to sell working items, write descriptive listings and be able to answer pre-sale questions accurately, thereby reducing potential return requests. Displaying this authority can also help to prevent claims from unscrupulous buyers that the item does not work.

Take photos like there is no description

Many people shop with their eyes and do not even attempt to read item descriptions. To add to this difficulty, buyers using eBay on mobile devices have to make an extra effort to search and specifically click through for the item description. As frustrating as this situation may be, there is no real solution besides always including a comprehensive collection of item photos in every listing. Take photos from various angles and distances. Be sure to clearly display any damage or imperfections as mentioned above.

Write the description as if there are no photos

Not everyone is a visual shopper. There are still plenty of people who will read every detail of a listing description to ensure that the item is exactly what they are looking for. For this reason, it is also vital to write a detailed listing including as many relevant item specifics as possible (manufacturer, features, material, origin, age etc). Again, be sure to detail any item flaws or damage.

Prevent items from being damaged in transit

Quite simply, the important thing here is to ship items securely in appropriate packaging. Mailer bags (also known as padded envelopes or jiffy bags) are cheap to send but when over-stuffed, they can burst during shipping. When using boxes, use enough packing material (such as biodegradable peanuts) around the item so that it doesn’t move when the box is shaken. Consider double boxing fragile items.

Send the right item

Yes, it may sound obvious but shipping the wrong item to a customer is an occasionally made mistake. Luckily, it is most easily avoidable with careful organization and a final double check before sealing and sending each package. If the item includes many different parts, consider using a contents sheet or checklist to keep track of the various pieces.

Meet delivery expectations

Fast shipping is increasingly popular but on-time deliveries are still the top priority for buyers. The best action here is to not overestimate what kind of shipping times you can offer. Be realistic and meet handling times. Upload accurate tracking information as soon as possible to reduce buyer concerns (and messages) relating to the item’s delivery.

Reducing return requests on eBay

The moral of this story is to set and maintain buyer expectations to a level that you, as a seller, are able to meet. While it is true that there will always be unscrupulous buyers ready to try a scam, the majority of eBay users are simply looking to purchase an item that fits their needs. The best advice for sellers, therefore, is to present each item accurately and realistically, so that it is sold to the most appropriate buyer. From there, sellers should fulfil all stated handling, packing and shipping obligations, providing the most professional service possible.

Experienced sellers, how do you keep your return request rate low?

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.

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