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We're all witnessing how chargebacks are progressively becoming a significant roadblock for eCommerce businesses. Unlike refunds or returns – where customers seek reimbursement directly from the retailer – a chargeback occurs when a customer disputes a transaction and approaches their bank to reverse the charge.

While it seems like a protective measure for consumers, it's the flip side for businesses. An increasing volume of chargebacks can lead to reputational damage, operational inefficiencies, and financial loss. eCommerce sites are left grappling with lost sales and the added sting of penalty fees. The resulting financial strain can be crippling, especially for small businesses.

But there's good news.

By implementing proactive measures and leveraging technology, eCommerce businesses can minimize the occurrence of these unwelcome chargebacks. This article unveils five practical strategies to fortify your business against chargebacks – centering around advanced automation and best-in-class billing practices.

Get ready to re-engineer your business processes, arm yourself with data-driven insights, and turn the tables on chargebacks once and for all.

Implement Transactional Security Best Practices

Transactional security is the first line of defense in reducing the risk of chargebacks. Robust security measures deter fraudulent activities that might lead to disputed transactions.

Here are some essential practices you should be adopting:

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate
    As an eCommerce business, operating without an SSL is unimaginable. SSL arranges an encrypted link from a web server to a browser, ensuring all data transferred between them stays private and protected.
  • Address Verification System (AVS)
    AVS checks the entered address against the address on file at the card-issuing bank. It's a quick way to confirm the customer's identity and reduce the risk of fraud.
  • Card Verification Value (CVV) Checks
    Requesting the CVV during transactions is another simple yet effective measure. It verifies that the purchaser has the physical card in hand. You can even go a step further and implement Dynamic CVV for additional safety.

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
    A standard 2FA process requires a password and a temporary code sent to the customer's mobile device. This additional step ensures extra vigilance and security.
  • Fraud Detection Tools
    Use machine learning and artificial intelligence software to spot patterns that might indicate fraudulent behavior. These tools can analyze hundreds of data points and provide a risk score for every transaction.

Protecting against fraudulent transactions isn't about one magic bullet but a combination of several best practices. Stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in transactional security to stay a step ahead of fraudsters. The fewer fraudulent transactions you process, the fewer chargebacks you'll face.

Provide Visible After-Sales Support

In the digital arena, the importance of superior after-sales support cannot be understated. Customers tend to opt for a chargeback when they feel unheard or when it's too difficult to reach you.

Putting your after-sales support front and center makes it easy for customers to contact you rather than their bank. This can significantly diminish the occurrence of chargebacks.

Here's how you can make your customer support more visible and accessible:

  • Display Contact Information Prominently
    Post your customer support contact details on every page of your site. This includes phone numbers, email addresses, and chat support links.
  • Use Toll-Free Numbers
    Toll-free numbers encourage customers to reach out without worrying about call charges and portray your business as reliable and professional.
  • Implement Live Chat
    Instant gratification plays a significant role in customer satisfaction. A live chat feature allows customers to get immediate responses to their queries.
  • Offer 24/7 Support
    By making your support team available round-the-clock, you ensure your customers can get assistance whenever needed.

An excellent example of adequate customer support visibility is Bay Alarm Medical, a medical alert systems provider. They've conspicuously placed their phone number on all their web pages and offer toll-free calling. This practice demonstrates their commitment to their customers and makes it more appealing for customers to reach out to them first rather than their bank.


Be Transparent About Fulfillment

In the eCommerce landscape, transparency in order fulfillment is paramount. It plays a vital role in managing customer expectations and reducing the chance of disputes and consequent chargebacks.

Here's how to be transparent about your fulfillment process:

  • Communicate Estimated Delivery Times Clearly
    Provide a clear and realistic delivery timeline before a customer finalizes their purchase. This prevents frustration and disappointment from perceived late deliveries.
  • Offer Order Tracking
    Enable a system where customers can track the status of their order. Knowing where their order is in the fulfillment process reduces anxiety and builds trust.
  • Provide Regular Updates
    Keep customers informed about their order status. Send emails or text messages when their order is dispatched, out for delivery, delayed, or delivered.
  • Indicate Potential Delays
    If you anticipate any delay in delivery due to high order volumes or other external factors, ensure this is communicated to the customers at the time of purchase.

An outstanding example of transparency in order fulfillment comes from Somnifix, a company that sells mouth strips promoting nose breathing. Shoppers can select their location, and Somnifix provides granular details about when they can expect their order. This level of detail helps manage customer expectations and reduces the likelihood of disputes.

By ensuring transparency in your fulfillment process, you can avoid misunderstandings and maintain customer satisfaction, reducing the risk of chargebacks.


Describe Your Product Clearly

In eCommerce, the potential for miscommunication about product features is high, leading to customer dissatisfaction and the dreaded "item not as described" disputes.

This section delves into methods for providing precise, detailed, and transparent product descriptions and clarification, ensuring your customers know exactly what they're purchasing. Investing in clear and comprehensive product descriptions can mitigate misunderstandings and prevent related chargebacks.

Read on to learn about strategies that will help you improve your product representation, reduce disputes, and improve customer satisfaction.

Communicate Effectively with Visuals

Visuals can communicate information quickly and effectively, often surpassing the capabilities of text alone. Images and videos offer customers a detailed understanding of a product, demonstrating its appearance, functions, and how it fits into their lives.

Critical reasons for using compelling visuals include:

  • Enhanced Product Understanding
    High-quality images and videos can accurately represent a product's color, size, texture, and features, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings.
  • Contextual Reference
    Images showing the product in use or context can provide a better understanding of the product's scale and utility.

  • Increased Trust
    User-generated content (UGC), such as photos or videos shared by real customers, enhances credibility and trust.

One brand that harnesses the power of visuals brilliantly is GILI, a leading name in the stand-up paddle boards and kayaks niche. They provide a comprehensive photo gallery with descriptions, scale references, animations, and videos for each product.


GILI Sports also incorporate UGC imagery in their product reviews, giving potential buyers a realistic idea of what to expect. Doing so minimizes the risk of customers feeling misled, which can significantly reduce the number of "item not as described" disputes and associated chargebacks.


Manage Customer Expectations

Managing customer expectations is a crucial yet delicate task. While promoting your product is essential for sales, setting realistic expectations is equally important.

Over-promising may boost initial sales but can lead to disappointed customers, increased returns, and a surge in chargebacks. On the other hand, accurately outlining what customers can expect from your product builds trust, fosters customer satisfaction, and reduces the likelihood of disputes.

You can manage customer expectations effectively by:

  • Being Honest
    Clearly describe the capabilities and limitations of your product.
  • Providing Detailed Information
    Outline specifications, ingredients, dimensions, compatibility, and other vital product information.
  • Answering FAQs
    Anticipate and answer potential customer questions accurately. Regularly update this section based on the feedback you receive.

A brand that strikes this balance well is FOCL, a CBD gummies and products brand. Their well-researched and meticulously written FAQs avoid overhyping the product while providing solid, realistic information. By focusing on factual, straightforward product representation, they manage customer expectations effectively and minimize the potential for disputes, thereby reducing the risk of chargebacks.


Turn Support Questions into Product Knowledge Base

Transforming customer queries into a public knowledge base on your product page is a game-changer for preventing misunderstandings. Not only does it offer potential buyers immediate access to critical information, but it also empowers them with insights gleaned from other customers' experiences.

Why is this strategy so beneficial?

  • Boosting Transparency
    When you answer product-specific questions publicly, you're demonstrating a commitment to transparency, which fosters trust with your customers.
  • Preventing Recurring Queries
    By addressing common questions on the product page, you preemptively provide answers to potential buyers who might have the same things in mind.
  • Enhancing Product Understanding
    A public knowledge base can cover aspects of your product that you might not have thought to include in the initial description, enhancing the overall understanding of your product.

  • Promoting Engagement
    This method encourages customer engagement, as they feel their questions and concerns are valued and addressed promptly.

Transparent Labs, a natural sports nutrition supplements brand, is a prime example of this practice. For example, if you look at their Creatine HMB product page they answer product-specific questions publicly and promptly, creating a beneficial knowledge base for potential buyers.

If a visitor points out a confusing detail about a product, Transparent Labs proactively clarifies it, ensuring all customers have accurate and comprehensive information. This approach reduces confusion, promotes trust, and minimizes the likelihood of potential chargebacks.


Have a Clear Refund and Return Policy

One of the most effective ways to prevent chargebacks is having a straightforward, visible, and customer-friendly refund and return policy. When customers know they can quickly return a product, they're less likely to dispute a transaction and opt for a chargeback.

A well-crafted return policy prevents chargebacks, boosts customer loyalty, and enhances your brand reputation.

The following methods can help you optimize your refund and return policy:

  • Make It Easily Accessible
    Display your return and refund policy on your website, particularly on product pages and at checkout.

  • Be Clear and Concise
    Ensure your policy is easy to understand. Use plain language, avoiding jargon and complex terms.

  • Detail the Process
    Outline the steps a customer needs to follow to initiate a return or refund, including any necessary forms or contact information.

  • Include Timeframes
    Clearly state the timeframes for returns, refunds, and exchanges.

  • Specify Condition Requirements
    If the product needs to be in a specific condition for return, clarify this in your policy.

A shining example of a transparent and customer-friendly return policy comes from Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer. Their return policy is easy to find, understand, and execute. They offer a 365-day return policy, with free shipping both ways, making the process as hassle-free as possible.

On their Returns and Exchanges page, Zappos ensures to list all the steps necessary to return an order and makes great effort to stress how simple the process is. Doing so gives customers confidence in their purchases, reducing the likelihood of chargebacks.


Final Thoughts

Chargebacks can significantly impact your eCommerce business, but you can reduce their occurrence by taking proactive steps. In the eCommerce world, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Implementing robust transactional security measures, providing visible and accessible customer support, being transparent about fulfillment processes, describing products clearly, and having a customer-friendly return policy are all crucial practices to mitigate chargebacks.

Remember that these steps aren't standalone solutions but parts of an integrated strategy to enhance customer satisfaction and trust. The key is to stay proactive, continually assess your practices, and adapt to changing trends and customer expectations with chargeback automation.

By focusing on these areas, you can protect your bottom line, maintain your merchant account standing, enhance your brand reputation, and create a more substantial, more successful online business.

About the Author:

Travis Jamison is an entrepreneur turned investor. After selling a couple of businesses, he shifted his focus toward investing. But he was disappointed by the lack of options for entrepreneurial-type investments - like buying websites & investing in small, bootstrapped businesses. So he started to provide a home for other entrepreneurs turned investors.


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