Reduce Your Return Rate: 5 Tips to Improve Product Visuals


Online retailers have known for years that the returns experience is a critical piece of the customer experience puzzle. According to a study by UPS, 73 percent of online shoppers report that the returns experience affects their likelihood to make a repeat purchase. 

But providing a low-friction returns experience isn’t enough to satisfy consumers anymore, as they're beginning to consider the impact their return shipping has on the environment.

They’re not wrong to be alarmed. Moving returned inventory around the U.S. creates 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually at least the equivalent of the annual emissions of 3 million cars.

To help cut down on this high environmental toll, online retailers must do their part to help reduce returns. One of the simplest ways to do this is to provide better product visuals pre-purchase to ensure they know what they’re buying before it arrives on their doorstep. 

To this end, here are five things you can do to improve your product visuals.

1. Include at Least 8 Images on Product Pages

Online researchers found that top 25 fashion brands offer an average of 8 images for each product page Show customers what they’re getting from every angle by including at least 8 images of the product from different angles.

If you don’t yet have the technology to show shoppers photorealistic models of your products in 360-degrees, you can get close by providing views of every product from every angle. 

2. Use Interactive 3D Imagery

Shoppers appreciate the opportunity to review a product from every angle online. If there are optional customizations, being able to preview how these changes will look before clicking “buy” is a powerful experience.

Whether the customization is a specific color of trim on a purse or a personalized inscription on a piece of jewelry, interactive 3D imagery can show shoppers exactly what the final product will look like in photorealistic detail.

3. Support AR Capabilities

Make your previews practical by supporting AR capabilities, especially if you’re selling furniture or appliances. Show your customers how a chair or lamp will look at scale within the context of their space to help them select the right product the first time around.

For cumbersome items like couches and bed frames, the financial and environmental cost of shipping should not be overlooked.

4. Include Detailed Size Guides for Clothing

While AR isn’t useful for “trying on” clothes at home just yet, you can provide detailed size guides and if you’re using a model, reference their height or relevant measurements. In addition to giving shoppers reference points within context to help them judge whether or not an item of clothing will be the right fit, provide a detailed guide to fit and sizing to help shoppers make the right purchase.

5. Offer BOPiS

In the US, perhaps thanks in part to Amazon’s Whole Foods expansion, buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) is becoming increasingly popular, and this may be good news for the environment. Having a BOPIS policy sets customers up to decide to make a return or exchange in-person, which helps limit carbon emissions, if not return rates.

While this isn’t a direct improvement to product visuals, this type of policy puts online shoppers in a better position to change their mind without harming the environment.

Better Product Visuals Lead Can Lead to Fewer Returns

By improving product visuals, you enable shoppers to make more informed decisions about their purchases, which conscientious customers appreciate. And customers are looking to retailers to help clean up the environmental side of their businesses: a recent survey we at Threekit conducted with The Harris Poll found that 82 percent of shoppers believe that retailers have a responsibility to help reduce returns with the goal of improving their environmental impact.


Reducing returns doesn’t take marketing gymnastics or a radical new policy your initiative can be as simple as a renewed focus on product visuals and giving shoppers the information they need to identify the right product for their needs.

Joachim Klein is president of ThreeKit.