5 tips to have fewer returns

Returns cost you money. Moreover, the environmental impact of the high number of returned products is high. The solution? A strategy that reduces the number of returns. Start with these five tips.

As an online seller, you have a major impact on the number of returns. Would you like your customers to return fewer products? That’s possible!

Jurrie-Jan Tap, Chief Business Development Officer at Bleckmann, the market leader in Supply Chain Management (SCM) services for the fashion, lifestyle, and consumer electronics markets, shares his advice in this article.

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His 5 tips to have fewer returns:

Tip 1. Give advice

Allowing people to order three sizes and send back two of them, is not the way to get lower returns. If a customer requests three of the same item in different sizes, automated software could send a message like: 'I see that you are ordering multiple sizes, I’m pretty sure I know exactly which you need. Can I help you with this?'

Tip 2. Charge for returns

Some retailers assume that if you put barriers for returns, people won't buy. But I'm not so sure about that.

When it comes to charging for returns, you could say that returns are only free if there is a problem with the product and not because people just changed their mind and decided it's not what they want. If you charge for returns, you will find that people suddenly know what they want. This way, you motivate people to look carefully for the right size instead of ordering three sizes of the same product.

Tip 3. Charge for deliveries

You could take a similar approach to charging for deliveries. When you charge for deliveries, people will think more precisely about what they order. And you’ll have less returns.

You can build options into your website for delivery and returns.

People don't always need things urgently. If they have the option to receive their order in three, four or five days for free, instead of paying for next-day delivery, people might choose the first.

Tip 4. Use a QR code

Getting returns back on sale as quickly as possible is essential, so you want your customers to return their items as soon as possible. People often think a return label in the box is the best way to speed up the return process. But, again, I would challenge that.

I would suggest not putting a return label in the box, but a QR code they need to scan when they need to make a return. During the scanning process, you can also ask for information on why people are returning an item. Once this code is scanned, the customer is guided to his preferred Post Office, where he only has to show the confirmation message

This way, you avoid having countless unused labels, so there is less waste. And you evade getting back labels with zero information on why products are returned.

Tip 5. Give penalties

You could do a similar thing with return windows. You can offer a free and 100% refund if people return an item within two weeks but introduce a bit of a penalty if they take longer. It could still be possible for people to get their returns for free if they play by the rules.

I think brands want to charge for returns, but they are waiting for the big retailers to take responsibility first.

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