Returns are an all round nightmare ...
- For the planet - since returned products have two delivery legs plus extra packaging
- For your profits - because reverse logistics (i.e. the process of receiving a product then quality checking and preparing it for resale) often costs somewhere between three to six times as much as sending a product to a customer
- For your customers - as they need to take time to repackage products to be returned and drop them off
The best way of reducing returns is to avoid dispatching the wrong products in the first place. Doing so will drastically reduce your return rate which will increase your profitability and reduce your environmental impact.
For that reason, you should provide the customer with more information before they make a purchase to make it more likely that they will choose the right product for them (for example the right colour, size, style or fit).
This might take the form of more relevant reviews posted by customers who are similar to the current customer, or perhaps it might take the form of educating the customer about the environmental impact of return. Many merchants are also experimenting with removing free returns to help the customer to consider the impact of returns and to reduce wardrobing.
Finally, merchants are starting to use emerging technology such as detailed 3D models and accurate customer sizing to ensure that the product will fit the customer perfectly. You may even want to consider custom building products to the customer’s exact size.