Retail therapy is great, but returns can take the fun out of it
In this pandemic shopping online way way more than we ever have. And sometimes we want to return things. We by which can be a hassle with shipping and restocking fees and printing out. Return labels with the printers. Definitely all have at home. This holiday season some retailers are trying to make returns easier like employees at simon malls will process returns for brands like levi's gap. So all you have to do is go to a mall. Kiosk with your item and qr code but as annoying as online returns can be for us. They might be worse for the retailers. Cerita dali is a retail analyst at forrester. She says when you return something you bought online it usually goes back to a warehouse and then the retailer has to decide what to do with it and either it will go to potentially what we call jobbers who buy the merchandise for cents on the dollar or it could get destroyed. If it's not in re salable condition out the other scenario. Is that if it actually is in resale condition. They need to think about whether they're going to mark it down or whether they're going to sell it. Put it back on the shelf at full price. It sounds like a lot of decisions to make a lot of decisions and that's why over the years. There's been a lot of return software. That's been created to try to keep track of all this stuff and try to create some consistency around the process. And does that software work. It can software make these kinds of decisions about. Should we accept this sweater back and should we resell it or destroyed or whatever to some degree. I mean there's some information that software can provide. It can let you know how much of the inventory is actually still being sold. It can tell you. is it a really hot item. And it's highly likely that there's a good chance that it could sell again at full price if you were to put it on the shelf but there's still a level of human interaction that's necessary. I mean somebody has to inspect the merchandise and assess whether it's been warning or you know. Is there a stain on it. Or is the tag missing because all of that can impact things like the sale ability and the salvage ability of that merchandise so it sounds like getting online returns that are mailed back to you as a retailer. That sounds like a pretty expensive process. Oh yeah i mean it's expensive to ship and then it's kind of equally more expensive to return because you could not only do you have to pay for the shipping back which many retailers often do but then kind of you could be losing the salvage ability if it's not in resale lable condition. So that's why some of the i would say. The stingiest retailers often don't pay return shipping. Because they are trying to dissuade you from returning altogether and others may even charge a restocking fee in addition to you know kind of making you pay return shipping to really really discourage you from returning that merchandise. I mean it sounds like retailers are really been trying to figure this out to hack this process right and make returns easier for them and for us And also cheaper for them. Are there any other ways. They're doing that are weezer using technology to do it. Well i mean the the cheapest return is the return. That never happens right. So having more accurate sizing charts having more accurate photography. The closer that you can be to. The actual product is and simulate the lighting and the coloring so that it actually looks like what ship that's the ideal And that can reduce returns to one of the number one reasons that people return either clothing or homegoods anything kind of aesthetic is typically because the item was not pictured as what was ultimately sent. The things that you mentioned retailers are doing on their websites to try to give customers a better sense of a product before they buy. Do you think that that'll work this year that it'll at least help. Keep the number of returns down one. The type of merchandise has changed. It's too much more casual. Wear to start with so that kind of merchandise is kind of. It's easier to fit than you know kind of work. Wear or kind of dress shoes. So that's something that is in favor of apparel merchants in particular to start with and then on top of that if you do put in more photographs more accurate photography you focus on your sizing charts and the accuracy of your sizing charts. You're collecting ratings and reviews from customers that are giving their comments on the size and fit of of the merchandise. All of that is good and it doesn't hurt sales and it doesn't hurt the the accuracy of the information that you're you're providing so i do think that it should help managing returns even though e commerce is grown.