Returning products costs companies billions, stop it with quality reviews

Aleš Randa

3 min

During an economic crisis, a company needs to successfully complete maximum sales without excess costs in order to generate the greatest possible profit. Product returns are a nightmare at this point. On average, up to a third of people will return goods, which often results in greater loss to the brand than if they had not purchased at all. What to do about it? Quality reviews can help.

Returning products is not good for companies, and not just during a crisis

Because it will damage the brand, no matter which way you look at it:

  • It has cost companies $761 billion over the past year. On average, it has affected up to 17% of transactions. 
  • In addition, if a product comes back destroyed or no longer usable, the company loses the costs it invested. 
  • And when customers experience multiple refunds in a row for a brand, 42% are unlikely to purchase again and up to 72% leave a negative review1

The most frequently returned items are shoes and clothes

In up to 33% of cases2. This is followed by consumer electronics (8% of cases), followed by health and beauty (5%).

Some brands no longer offer free returns, but that doesn't help either

In fact, for most people, free returns are a major factor in their purchase decision, with 79% of them being surpassed by free postage only. In addition, a lot of customers also like so-called "bracketing"3, where they buy one product in multiple colours/sizes and then return all the pieces that don't fit. Although this is an inconvenience for sellers, it is again crucial for buyers as it represents the simplicity of online shopping.

In the vast majority of cases, you can avoid returns, but how?

73% of refunds are caused by something the brand could have controlled4. According to a recent survey5 , people most often return products because:

  • It's damaged, of poor quality or doesn't work (up to 80% of the time)
  • They don't match the description on the website (64% of cases)
  • The buyer simply doesn't like the product in real life (37% of cases)

Pass all these problems with quality review marketing

  • Damaged, non-functioning and poor quality products are problems in the manufacturing process. But it is hard to tell from the excessive rate of returns exactly what it is about the product that bothers people. The only way to get this invaluable feedback is through reviews, where people will always tell you what you need to improve and what to leave unchanged.
  • When products are returned because they don't look like they do in real life, product descriptions and infographics are to blame. The customer simply didn't find what they needed in the product and was subsequently disappointed. This is also a case that can easily be passed on by careful analysis of the evaluation texts. What product features do people notice? What do they write about the most? And what language do they use? Find out, and then communicate exactly that information to them in your sales arguments.
  • Reviews are often accompanied by so-called user-generated content, mainly photos and videos. These are invaluable to buyers because they show products in a real-life setting. This makes it easy for them to check what the product actually looks like and to avoid falling out of love with it after purchase.
  • The impact of reviews on return rates is supported by empirical studies. According to surveys, reading reviews reduces the likelihood of returning a product for 70% of buyers6.


  1. INCISIV. (n.d.). 2021 State of the Industry Report: Retail Returns
  1. Burns, C. (2022, December 23). Top 7 Customer Returns Reasons in 2023 & How to Avoid Them. Chargebacks911. 
  1. Burns, C. (2022, December 23). Top 7 Customer Returns Reasons in 2023 & How to Avoid Them. Chargebacks911. 
  1. INCISIV. (n.d.). 2021 State of the Industry Report: Retail Returns
  1. Burns, C. (2022, December 23). Top 7 Customer Returns Reasons in 2023 & How to Avoid Them. Chargebacks911 
  1. Team, P. (2022i, November 22). How Reviews Minimize Returns. PowerReviews.  

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