By Vit Endler

There’s no doubt that eCommerce will continue to grow and grow. Unsurprisingly, 2018 was its best year yet, and it’s expected to reach $3.4 trillion in revenue in 2019. However, as good as this all sounds, merchants and eCommerce stores are still losing a shocking $500 billion per year between chargebacks and returns. This is an especially hard hit for small and medium-sized sellers that aren’t in a position to dispute or deny these claims.

So, how can eCommerce combat these charges that many companies see as unavoidable? While it should always be a priority to upkeep the quality of the products and use great images, descriptions and size guides, and of course offer excellent customer service, companies may have to keep something else up their sleeve. New innovations like virtual mirror add-ons that give the consumer an accurate, 3D representation of what the purchase would look like on them or in a space have huge potential to reduce returns and chargebacks for eCommerce businesses.

Showcase your products as accurately as possible

Making sure the images of your products are high-resolution, can be zoomed into, and show the item from different angles is key in allowing shoppers to get a great understanding of what they’re about to buy. In fact, 22 percent of products returns happen because the item was depicted innacurately on the website. Why not even show the product in use through video, and give the consumer a full 3D experience?

This logic needs to also be applied to product descriptions, which should include as much detail as possible. Combine this with accurate size guides fitting tools so that the shopper can get a good understanding of the exact size of the product.

Let’s also not forget that ultimately, product quality is going to be the crux of your business. Your products need to be up to the quality expected by your customers, otherwise you’ll be experiencing excessive amounts of returns and chargebacks from customers. This means portraying your products’ features accurately so you don’t end up with a loss of customers that are unsatisfied with the items they ordered.

Offer exceptional customer service

While it’s undeniable that as any eCommerce business will face unfair reviews and unjustified chargebacks, you still need to ensure that you’re delivering exceptional customer service 24/7. Being easily contactable by phone, email, or live chat means customers can resolve any issues related to products and ask important questions before they buy–helping to prevent unnecessary returns.

In fact, 81 percent of retailers in Gartner’s 2017 Customer Experience in Marketing Survey said they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of Customer Experience.

Innovate with new tools

Even if eCommerce businesses commit to all of the above points, many consumers would still argue that returns are inevitable when they can’t physically try on clothes, accessories, or even visualize furniture in rooms in their homes on most eCommerce websites.

While not yet widespread, tools now exist that allow users to scan their face and bodies to virtually “try on” items before they buy online -- bringing them as close as they’re going to get to being in a physical dressing room. This is still an expensive solution, but it’s one that holds huge promise for eCommerce retailers.

Similarly, virtual room planners give shoppers an insight into what certain pieces of furniture would look like in their homes. Undeniably, being able to picture exactly how a pair of sunglasses, a shirt, or a couch will look in real life promises dramatically reduce return rates and thus drive revenue for eCommerce businesses.

Customers return products and request chargebacks for a myriad of reasons -- with many of them being unjust or unfair to the seller. However, it’s time that eCommerce retailers stopped accepting this lost revenue as inevitable, and started taking action and utilizing new innovative methods that benefit both the consumer and the business.

Vít Endler is a strategy leader at Virtooal, a virtual mirror add-on for beauty and apparel eCommerce sites.

Chargeback stock photo by Profit_Image/Shutterstock