Dealing with returns is an age old issue. One that is definitely highlighted following Christmas sales. With the ever growing world of online shopping mirroring the growth in returns, Drapers has found that returns easily run between a staggering 30% to 40% for most multichannel retailers. It’s a regular occurrence for people to buy two identical items in different sizes, to try on once received, or buy two items and deciding when they have been delivered which one they prefer. The accessibility to online shopping with the developments in mobile and tablet technology is posing part of the problem, simple to do but doesn’t allow you to touch, try or smell a product, before committing to a purchase.
Improving returns systems isn’t simply about saving money but also about targeting waste of clothing, packaging and time. Items don’t just go back on sale, but often need relabeling, and repacking. A robust system needs to be in place able to manage the payment of refunds and reprocess stock back in to the supply chains as-quickly-as possible, without a swift turn around returns could result in a lost sale and wasted stock.
To help tackle this problem many retailers are working on developing their websites to provide a more in depth product summary and photography that boasts 360 degrees, panoramic views of the items on sale as well as virtual fitting room technology. There is also data available that tries to second guess what customers want. However, this approach carries its own flaws, including; variations in people’s sizes, tastes and shopping for others.
Finding a way to minimise returns is proving to be essential, and an efficient returns system needs to be an integral consideration in any omnichannel strategy. It has to be as important as the actual selling of goods.
The perfect returns strategy needs to strike the right balance. A too liberal approach can prove to be too costly for the retailer, having a direct impact on profitability. A to stringent policy, however, will help to keep the cost of returns down, but means retailers could risk turning customers away.
Providing hassle free returns to customers helps to further develop the trust between customer and brand, helping to maintain relationships and securing potential future sales.