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Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

4 thoughts on “Can You Learn from eBay’s Tips on Reducing Returns?”

  1. When it comes to men’s clothes, the current sizing system in the world is a mess and was developed before the internet, assuming I guess that buyers would try clothes on in the stores where they were looking.

    It’s not an easy problem to fix. It would be if eBay buyers were better shoppers but the current state is that a significient %age of buyers buy without even reading the item description.

    The logical solution would be for prosective buyers be required to measure an item like the one they are interested in buying and compare those key measurements to those supplied by the seller.

    Take short sleeve shirts, for example. Knowing these 3 measurements is all you need to buy a shirt that fits you well:
    Chest (arm pit to arm pit times 2)
    Length (top of collar to hem at the bottom)
    Shoulders (Shoulder seam to shoulder seam when there is one, so the seam doesn’t hang over the shoulders or be too tight).
    Instead we have Small, Medium, Large, XL, 2XL, 3XL, XLT, XL Big, etc, and all these labels measure differently from manufacturer to manufacturer, plus add Original fit, Slim fit, Classic Fit, Athletic fit, etc.

    Almost all of my returns are because the item doesn’t fit, which would have been avoided if the buyer knew about inches, not “I wear a large shirt and this is too big.”

  2. Sellers who rely exclusively on eBay item numbers are more likely to make errors.

    eBay could help sellers reduce returns by providing more robust support for seller SKU numbers for tracking inventory before it is listed. The eBay-centric approach treats seller SKU numbers as a reluctantly stored foreign key with little visibility or support during the listing or fulfillment process. Sellers must map their inventory system, if one exists, into eBay item numbers, an inevitably error prone process unless a third-party eCommerce tool like SixBit is used to avoid having to search for inventory using eBay item numbers.

  3. ZZ mentions that you should measure the dimensions along with listing the size on the tag. I do this on all my clothing items, and some are still returned. Problem is that some buyers do not read the item description.

    This problem will worsen if a seller offers free returns. A buyer will know that they can send back an item at the sellers expense, and it will be free to “windowshop” on eBay. So why bother with reading any details??

    I cannot learn from the eBay tips and recommendations, since I already incorporate these into my business. The only two returns I have had in the last three months were for brand new and factory sealed items which had manufacturer defects. Still, I was warned that “Your Returns Are Too High”, and was told my listings may be hidden because of it.

  4. We sell nothing but brand new items, in the manufacturer’s packaging, using their listings.
    There’s nothing that they mention that would help us one bit.
    The fact is, returns are simply out of control. They often cause buyers nothing now, so why should they care? As buyer shipping costs have gone away, returns have gone up.
    Worse, so many buyers now treat purchases as rentals. Or, a way to get free stuff. None of the above tips even acknowledge that fact, let alone address it.

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