How to lower your online return rate

by Tally Mack

A high merchandise return rate is an expensive hassle. If you are currently selling online, you’re no stranger to returns. Digital buyers return electronics at a rate of 42%, making it the second-highest return item category. Accessories, watches, and jewelry come next with a return rate of 30%. While returns are inevitable in retail, there are ways that pawnshops can make online item returns work for them.  

Here are 6 best practices for reducing return rates:

1. Pick a reputable and reliable e-commerce platform

It all starts with the basics: Location, location, location. Treat your online shop like your physical store and look for key things like: How are items displayed? Is the website easy to find and navigate? Can your storefront be customized? Does it accept multiple forms of payment? Does it have a customer service team that can answer questions or address issues?  

Some of the best-known online retail sites include eBay, Etsy, and Facebook Marketplace – but these websites don’t give you very much control in the way your shop is portrayed or marketed. Plus, you are competing with hundreds of thousands of other retailers. Other options include a Square or Shopify site, or a custom e-commerce page on your website.  

If you’re already using Bravo Point of Sale, is a great place to set up an e-commerce storefront that is automatically synced to your POS system. Buya is home to the internet’s best prices and value and provides customers with the opportunity to negotiate with merchants. Plus, Buya Merchants get the highest marks in customer satisfaction, with less than 2% of all items shipped ever returned (and that’s despite a 100% money-back guarantee!)

2. Make sure your online listings are accurate and descriptive

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! While in-store purchases are return 5-10% fo the time, returns jump up to 20% for online purchases. This is for a variety of reasons – but the biggest one has to do with uncertainty. Most times, the convenience of online shopping and returns means consumers will buy items with the expectation of returning it if it’s not something they like.  

One way to reduce this type of online “window shopping” is to ensure your online product listings are detailed and accurate. This can include a well-lit photo, a well-written description, and a way to answer customer questions about the product. Online customers, like in-store customers, want to know what they are getting.

Having accurate product descriptions is particularly important if much of your retail consists of pre-owned merchandise. It goes without saying that being transparent about any material defects – with photos and written descriptions – is critical for managing customer expectations, building trust and creating loyalty. Customers will expect wear and tear with pre-owned goods, but they want to know about it!

Thankfully, Bravo Point of Sale provides you with built-in hard goods and jewelry estimators to help you take the guesswork out of writing product descriptions, increase customer confidence and reduce returns.The estimator guidesemployees through creating an accurate product description so that you get your items listed accurately, quickly and painlessly online.  

3. Double, triple and quadruple check the item  

It’s shocking to think that the wrong product could be shipped to a customer, but it happens more often than we’d like to think. After all, how many times has an employee mistaken one Louis Vuitton bag for another just slightly larger Louis Vuitton bag? In fact, 24% of all returns are made because the package was not what the customer ordered. Bravo Point of Sale provides a detailed inventory system that is automatically synced to your online storefront, meaning that your employee will never scan the wrong product again.

It is equally important to ensure the customer is not receiving a defective or damaged item. To prevent quality defects, you should perform a detailed inspection of the item before wrap, pack, and ship, and communicate with customers if any changes happened with the sale.  

4. Pack your items securely

You did all this work to produce a high-quality item for someone to buy, so make sure it’s packaged securely before mailing! Even if the item left your store in pristine condition, damage during transit is a legitimate reason for a customer return. Don’t risk leaving the customer with a bad taste after making a purchase through your store. Ensure your item can survive any drops, moisture or accidents along the way – and don’t forget to record tracking numbers, pack care instructions and include a thank you note!  

5. Make online customer service a priority

You might think online customers aren’t as high-touch as in-store customers, but giving them the same, great customer experience online can go a long way towards building long-term profit growth. That’s why Bravo provides multiple ways for you to engage with a customer online.  

Like it is in your physical store, great customer service – such as prompt and polite responses to emails, text messages and online chat – can lead to building customer loyalty and free word-of-mouth advertising. Loyalty from online customers means your e-commerce site gets bookmarked and will be the first place they go next time they’re searching for an item. Open communication gives you an opportunity to turn a return into an exchange or even an upsell.  

Remember to follow up with customers who have made a purchase to invite them to review their experience with you. Catching customer complaints early means potentially preventing them from making a costly return. And, stellar online reviews go a lot farther towards reaching future customers. Review Booster is a natively-integrated tool that automatically sends a review link to your customer right after they make their purchase, and records reviews within your point-of-sale so you can track your best buyers. Plus, Review Booster sends reviews to the top of Google, Yelp, Yahoo and other major review sites, saving you time.  

Keep in mind that shopping online is an experience too, and your competitor will always be just a click away.

6. Flip that return into a sale

Returns are a part of selling online, but if a customer must make a return, why not treat it like a new sales opportunity? Many shops encourage shoppers to step away from their computer and come into the store, where they might be tempted to buy something else. Some tactics include adding a return shipping charge for online returns or offering coupons for in-store redemption.  

Pawnshops are in a unique position to use other tactics, such as offering exchanges for items of similar value or offering a guaranteed loan. Inviting the customer to shop again keeps the door open for future purchases, instead of ending the transaction with a return.  

Not everything goes perfectly  

Returns happen, but it is how you handle them that can make it a win-win scenario. Bravo can help you manage your online storefront and physical inventory seamlessly; help you stay in touch with your customers; and prevent returns from hurting your bottom line.  

Not selling online yet? Make all these steps easier through the Buya Marketplace, a free-to-use, Bravo-integrated e-commerce platform that is customized to look like your website and is supported by complimentary Google ads!  

About the Author:

Photo of Tally Mack Bravo CEO
Tally Mack | CEO of Bravo Systems

Tally Mack is a fifth-generation pawnbroker and eCommerce enthusiast. She loves traveling, being outside, and working out.

Before taking the reins as CEO, Tally served as Bravo's Vice President of Business Development, leading the company's sales and marketing organization. She's been instrumental in leading and executing many of the company's strategic shifts, including the acquisition of CompuPawn and the recent launch of

Tally earned her Doctorate of Law (J.D.) from DePaul University College of Law in 2013 after attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she earned her B.A. in Communication Studies. She also completed the Key Executives Program from Harvard Business School in 2013.

Tally is a pawnshop lover and eCommerce enthusiast—dedicated to the success of both her employees and customers!