Around the world, e-shoppers are putting the online fashion industry through the proverbial wringer with returns. Fashion represents an estimated one-quarter of all e-commerce returns made globally.
Clothing and shoe e-tailers must already stay abreast of shifting consumer trends and the latest styles to provide high-quality, consumer-focused products. But keeping up with changing customer ordering experiences and returns management preferences on top of all that can feel like a real hassle. Instead, it should be a way of interacting and learning from shoppers.
Here are just a couple of conflicts compounding returns complexity in fashion e-commerce today:
Intentional returns versus return abuse
As of 2016, e-tailers spend an average of 7.6 percent of their total annual revenue on fraud prevention. Returned merchandise is not only a significant part of that expense but also a driver for high costs when fashion businesses account for their abnormally high volume of returns compared with other industries.
To reduce quality assurance costs in return management, fashion e-tailers have begun auditing their operations to uncover if their own practices encourage unnecessary returns. For instance, what the industry calls intentional returns occur when customers cannot size clothing they view online to themselves, so they order multiple sizes with the intent to return those that don’t fit, creating a lot of potentially avoidable returns.
Leaders in online fashion understand high return rates are, for now, inescapable, but that doesn’t mean they can’t minimize the issue. By considering intentional returns when calculating processing costs or developing online tools that help customers size smarter, e-tailers can continue to offer key services while still adequately funding returns management processes that monitor truly fraudulent activity.
But e-tailers that decide to go this route may require the assistance of a knowledgeable returns management provider, such as Landmark Global, as they develop more attractive returns policies that many of their customers are likely to take them up on. Efficiency in returns management will also cut down on operational costs triggered by a return.
Friction across multi-tiered returns processes
Returns are hardly ever two-way transactions between customers and the retailer. Just as products undergo rigorous quality assurance testing, packaging and processing before they land in a distribution center, so too must they undergo the same in reverse upon return.
In the UK, for example, returned goods typically traverse seven layers of processing before they can be resold. At each of those checkpoints, disorganization or confusion can delay operations, which in turn delays the time it takes to reimburse the returner, thus creating an unsatisfactory return experience, increasing the risk of customer churn. With so many online fashion dealers available just a click away, customer retention really matters.
Returns ought to be a service that adds to the value of an online retailer, not a deterrent of future purchases or a threat to the profitability of the greater business. For returns management to reach such heights, however, e-tailers should consider partnering with an internationally acclaimed logistics provider that understands the demands of modern e-commerce, as well as how to optimize the returns process. That logistics partner should also help retailers make their returns processes more transparent to both the customer and the company.
Landmark Global has the capability to oversee every aspect of a return, from quality checks to refurbishing, all the way to restocking. If returns happen across country borders, Landmark’s highly trained trade services teams will retrieve any duties or fees paid at point of sale.
Want to learn more about how returns management impacts e-commerce across all industries? Check out what Landmark Global had to say about the matter in this blog post.