It’s a definite trend: consumers taking advantage the lax return policies many retailers have put in place to remain competitive. The apparel industry has been one of the hardest hit in terms of returns: a recent study by Fit3D found that 50 percent of consumers surveyed say they anticipate returning clothes they ordered online this holiday shopping season. And more than 33 percent of shoppers say they bought more than one size of an item, just to make sure they got the right size. Getting the right size and color is a recurring theme amongst serial returners and the conundrum has spurred on a try before you buy industry with companies like Trunk Club, Stitch Fix, and ASOS leading the charge.
There is a silver lining behind this grey cloud of returns: Russell Scherwin, chief marketing officer of Watson commerce for IBM, told BizTech that some of their company’s retail customers now view serial returners as an opportunity to improve sales. “What we try to determine is the customer’s overall value and if they are an advocate for the brand,” Scherwin explains. “Very often, if they order 10 items and return eight, they are still good customers overall. The idea is that, as long as they are profitable customers, then dealing with the returns is a cost of doing business.”
Keeping customers happy is definitely the name of the game in the current retail climate and the positive reviews and comments they might leave on a retailer’s social channels could prove more engaging and positive than headlines declaring a ban on customers; plus, it could help a retailer enter the social commerce scene.
Now that dealing with returns is a recognized part of doing business, it’s time for retailers to rethink their reverse logistics and supply chain operations, especially when it comes to merchandise that can’t go back on store shelves. Plus, with holiday returns looming on the horizon, now more than ever, retailers should think about a strategic liquidation solution like the one B-Stock provides.
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