E-commerce Tools & Best Practices

Prevent Online Returns With Product Images and Videos

By: Michelle McNamara | May 23, 2018

Online returns are a major pain point for e-commerce sellers. It’s not uncommon to see return rates of 30 percent or more for merchandise that’s bought online. And unless you’re promoting a “Try Before You Buy” policy, you likely want to get your return rate as low as possible to avoid unhappy customers and missed sales.

Driving down your return rate can certainly be challenging, but there’s a simple place to start that can have a major impact on your bottom line: your product images. 93 percent of consumers consider visual appearance to be essential in the purchasing decision.

If the item that a customer receives doesn’t match what’s in the product images, prepare for backlash. According to returns prevention software company ReturnLogic, 22 percent of online returns are due to the product being substantially different in appearance than what was advertised on the website.

Here are our tips to ensure your product images and videos are up to snuff to avoid those dreaded customer returns.

The More Product Images, The Better

According to BigCommerce, you should aim for a dozen images on each product page. This allows you to include multiple shots of the product, plus lifestyle or context shots.

Take note of plus-size clothing company Universal Standard. The company shows each of its products in every single size offered. Since Universal Standard was founded on the principle of inclusive sizing—with sizes 6-32—that’s a lot of images for each product.

Consider including a variety of product sizes and colors in the images you choose to ensure customers have an accurate depiction of what they’re buying. Measurements or contextual comparisons to the item’s size may also be important (especially for items like collectibles which may be a lot smaller than people think they are.)

Get a Better Angle

It’s important to show the product from different angles to give a sense of what the product is like in real life.

If possible, you might also want to use images that spin 360 degrees. DueMaternity.com, for example, started adding 360-degree spin to its maternity clothing images. These new images drove the conversion rate 27 percent higher than for standard two-dimensional images. The company used PhotoCapture 360, a software and equipment system developed by Ortery, to create these rotational shots.

Opt for Product Videos

80 percent of consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important. And, four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. In a video, you can see a product from many different angles, helping customers get a better sense of the item.

Maybe high-quality videos aren’t in your budget, but you can experiment with adding short clips of your team engaging with the product on your company’s Instagram and Facebook stories. Then, you can send your social visitors to your site to get more details and pictures of the item.

No matter what visuals you choose to represent your products, you’ll want to make sure you have a variety of high-quality, clear images and videos. Engaging, realistic images can not only help lower your return rates, but also help bring more customers across the finish line to click “buy”.

For more advice on e-commerce returns, check out our tips to improve the post-purchase experience for customers.


Shippo is a multi-carrier API and web app that helps retailers, marketplaces and platforms connect to a global network of carriers. Businesses use Shippo to get real-time rates, print labels, automate international paperwork, track packages and facilitate returns. Shippo provides the tools to help businesses succeed through shipping.

Michelle McNamara

Content Strategist at Shippo

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