Ways to prevent shipping returns

Shipping returns cost time and money. The transport costs but also the time and money to process returns and updating your records. Does your customer pay these costs or do you? With a good returns policy, you prevent returns. Here are 6 ways to reduce the number of returns in your online shop.

Disadvantages of shipping returns

Handling returns costs you time and money. An average of €12.50 (in Dutch), according to research by NOS news. In addition, returns are bad for the environment because of CO2 emissions, among other things. Sometimes returned products are damaged, so you can no longer sell them.

Improve your shipping returns policy

You can reduce returns by helping customers make the right choice. Here are 6 ways to help them do just that.

1. Expand your product information

If you provide comprehensive product information and clear and colourful photos of all your products, your customers are more likely to be satisfied with their order.

Consider what additional explanations and instructions you can give. For household appliances, think about the size of an appliance and the exact colour. For clothing, give tips and information, such as: 'This garment falls small, choose a size bigger' or 'Our model is 1.85 metres and wears size S'.

2. Research buyer behaviour

If you know why customers return products, you can do something about it. You find out by having people give a reason when they return. Does a garment keep coming back because the colour is different than on the website? Then get better photos. Or maybe customers are not satisfied with the quality of a product. Then you could look for another supplier.

3. Think about returns

Do you opt for free returns or make the customer pay for them?

Pay the return costs yourself

Some customers expect returning an order will be free of charge. Free returns is a service you can offer, but you are not obliged to. Fewer and fewer large online shops still offer free returns. Usually, you do not earn much on a product. If you also pay the return costs yourself, you make less profit.

Let the customer pay

If your customer pays the return costs, it saves you money. And people may think more carefully about what they order and return.

If a customer wants to return a product, the return costs are their responsibility (in Dutch). You do have to mention this on your website. How the customer can return, you mention at the latest upon delivery of the order. You must refund the original shipping costs. Did the customer pay costs for extra fast delivery? Then you do not have to refund those costs.

Return costs for broken product

You may not charge for the repair or replacement of a broken product. This is stated by law. You are responsible for the return costs of repair and replacement.


Do you do dropshipping? Be clear about how you handle returns. If you want your customer to return products to the supplier abroad, you have to inform the customer beforehand. If you do not, you have to pay the return costs yourself.

4. Invest in a good inventory system

When a customer orders something, they expect the item to be available. Do you not have your inventory management in order and the customer does not receive their product? Then they might order the item from someone else in the meantime and your item will be returned. With an up-to-date inventory system, you make sure that your customers knows whether an item is available before they order.

5. Improve your packaging

Develop your own packaging (in Dutch). This will prevent you from being unable to sell a product because the packaging is damaged. In addition, your own packaging can contribute to your personal branding. For example, because you design the packaging in such a way that it is a treat to open a parcel from you.

6. Extend the cooling-off period

The customer has a statutory minimum cooling-off period of fourteen days. You can extend this cooling-off period. Within this cooling-off period, your customer can return the order and you must refund the purchase price. Your customer must be able to cancel an order in various ways. For instance, by e-mail, phone or website.