14 May 2023
Minimize Returns & Maximize Profits
This article explores practical steps to reduce return volume and combat return fraud, including clear return policies, verification of purchases, secure packaging, customer identification, and the use of fraud detection tools.
By implementing these measures, retailers can enhance customer satisfaction, increase revenue, and protect their business from fraudulent activities.
How to reduce return volume
Preventing as many returns as possible can reduce, both, the costs associated and the environmental impact.
Ask for customer feedback: Keep reachable to your customers. This provides you with valuable insights about quality, functionality and performance so you can identify any recurring issues or flaws in your products to address them.
Note that returns often occur due to sizing or fit issues. By gathering feedback on sizing accuracy, you can make necessary adjustments to your size charts or provide additional guidance to customers.
Upgrade your content and imagery: Improving product descriptions will prevent your customers from receiving products that don’t meet their expectations, and so on, returning the purchased items because they don’t meet their needs. Match the descriptions with high-quality and representative images.
Reduce bracketing: This online version of taking several sizes and colors of the same item to the fitting room represents no less than 15% of purchases.
You can add a feature of size recommendations based on past purchases as they often reduce the need to buy multiple items to try on at home.
The use of diverse models wearing a product that show what items will look like on different bodies and shapes, is also a quite helpful way to slow down these “just in case” multiple and repetitive purchases.
Although it is a risky strategy, you can try by eliminating free returns as well. Note that almost 60% of customers reconsider purchasing from a store that charges for mailed returns.
Returns can be a valuable source of revenue
When customers have a positive return experience, they are more likely to shop with the retailer again. By offering a hassle-free return process, you increase the chances of retaining the customer and generating future sales.
Providing a seamless and customer-centric return experience helps build trust and loyalty. Customers appreciate retailers that make returns easy and convenient, which can lead to long-term relationships and repeat business.
Upselling and Cross-selling Opportunities
Returns provide an opportunity to engage with customers and potentially upsell or cross-sell other products. For example, when processing a return, you can recommend alternative products, suggest complementary items, or offer personalized discounts, thereby increasing the average order value and generating additional revenue.
Positive Referrals and negative reviews mitigation
When customers have a positive return experience, they are more likely to share their experience with friends, family, or through online reviews. Positive word-of-mouth can drive new customers to your business and boost revenue.
By addressing returns effectively, you can mitigate negative reviews and prevent potential returns. Resolving issues promptly and providing excellent customer service can turn a potentially dissatisfied customer into a loyal advocate for your brand.
Reselling Returned Items
In some cases, returned items can be resold as open-box or refurbished products at a discounted price. This allows retailers to recoup some of the costs associated with returns and turn them into revenue opportunities.
Data Insights and Product Improvement
Returns provide valuable data and insights into customer preferences, product flaws, or sizing issues. By analyzing return patterns and reasons, retailers can make data-driven decisions to improve product quality, optimize inventory management, and refine their offerings, leading to increased customer satisfaction and sales.
Prevent Return Fraud
This is critical to mantain a healthy bottom line. You can achieve it by verification of purchases, secure packaging and labels, use fraud detection tools and, ultimately, limiting return periods. Let’s take a closer look.
Clear Return Policy
- Clearly communicate your return policy on your website, including eligibility criteria, timeframes, and any specific requirements.
- Make sure the policy is easily accessible and visible to customers during the purchasing process.
- Set clear guidelines for returns and exchanges to manage customer expectations.
Verification of Purchases
- Implement measures to verify the authenticity of purchases during the return process.
- Require proof of purchase, such as order numbers, receipts, or invoices, to validate the return.
- Match return requests with customer accounts or order history to ensure consistency.
Track and Monitor Returns
- Implement a system to track and monitor return activity.
- Monitor return patterns, frequencies, and behavior to identify potential fraudulent activity.
- Use data analytics to detect abnormal return patterns or excessive returns from individual customers.
Secure Packaging and Labels
- Ensure that products are shipped with secure packaging and tamper-evident labels.
- Use unique packaging or labels that are difficult to replicate or tamper with.
- This helps to deter fraudulent returns where customers may attempt to return non-purchased or used items.
Item Inspection and Restocking
- Conduct thorough inspections of returned items to verify their condition and authenticity.
- Check for signs of wear, damage, or tampering.
- Implement a restocking process that ensures returned items are in saleable condition before being returned to inventory.
- Implement customer identification measures during returns, especially for high-value or frequent returns.
- Request identification documents or verify customer information to prevent fraudulent return attempts by unauthorized individuals.
Limit Return Periods
- Set reasonable timeframes for returns to reduce the opportunity for fraudulent returns.
- Clearly communicate the return deadlines to customers to ensure they are aware of the timeframe for returning products.
Monitor and Respond to Patterns
- Continuously monitor return patterns and analyze data to identify suspicious activities.
- Look for trends such as excessive returns from specific customers or frequent returns of high-value items.
- Act promptly to investigate and address potential fraudulent activities.
- Educate and train your customer service and returns team to be vigilant and knowledgeable about return fraud prevention.
- Provide them with guidelines and protocols for handling returns and detecting potential fraudulent activity.
Use Fraud Detection Tools
- Implement fraud detection tools or services that can analyze customer behavior, purchase history, and return patterns to flag potential fraudulent activity.