New technologies are a game changer. Data-driven solutions that provide insight into each individual customer’s shopping habits are also emerging. Companies such as Appriss are applying their technology to the retail world and are successfully curbing excess and fraudulent returns. This is how forward-thinking retailers are ensuring that abusive returners don’t ruin policies for everyone, while also reducing shipping costs and greenhouse gas emissions (with returns making up 25% of all e-commerce emissions).
The right return policy. Retailers need to be cognizant of keeping existing customers and capturing potential customers while also making sure they don’t lose money in the process. So what is the right return policy? It comes down to understanding why brands are making returns difficult in the first place, what works best for that brand, and the underlying costs that lie outside the operational boundaries.
Retailers need to remove the idea of mitigating returns as a whole. It’s not realistic, and even with best efforts, the rate of returns has managed to only increase over time. Retailers typically place the focus on returns in two strategic buckets: ease and hurdles. In reality there should be one bucket: the consumer.
Returns have a huge influence on the consumer’s buying decision. The returns process is a reflection of the shopping experience itself, a shadow of the brand or retailer. An efficient and transparent returns policy can strengthen a brand's reputation promoting loyal patronage, as 92% of consumers who have a positive return experience revisit brands for another purchase.
Things such as where customers return items matter. Consumers don’t want to have to bring returns back to a logistics provider. In fact, 32% say that was the most inconvenient part of the returns experience.
Returns are a part of shopping culture and play a major impact on purchasing decisions. It’s improbable that we are ever going to eliminate them. But we can take a different approach to how we manage them by transforming the problem into a solution that recaptures customers/dollars, data-driven decisions, waste reduction, and improve supply chain efficiencies.
Looking ahead, the retail winners will be those who place the customer first and reap the rewards as they adapt their reverse supply chains to their strategic advantage.