Retailers recently closed out the books on Q4 2019, and based on projections by UPS and Mastercard, they were likely reeling from unprecedented returns-related lost revenue. Returns used to be a holiday problem, but with fast, free, and easy returns for customers, they’ve become an everyday problem. Sourcing Journal covers how retailers can optimize their returns, and includes Newmine’s perspective: Returns, and returns data, are an untapped opportunity for retailers at a time when they need it most:
Shoppers may also be more concerned about return policies since some retailers have begun pushing back on what they viewed as return abuse. L.L. Bean ended its “lifetime” return policy. Amazon has taken to banning shoppers who return too many items. And Asos will deactivate a serial returner’s account. The Retail Equation offers software that alerts retailers to consumers who have excessive returns and sometimes, the company states, a transaction is stopped because of it. Newmine, a retail consulting and technology firm, told WWD that other reasons for excessive returns could be due to compulsive shoppers who soon feel remorse; wardrobers who wear an outfit for a special occasion before bringing it back; and social media wardrobers who buy clothes merely to take an “outfit of the day” picture before returning the haul.
But returns aren’t always an automatic negative for stores. Newmine says returns are an opportunity to gain product feedback through data mining and can help determine what the customer really wants. And in a study by Narvar, 38 percent of consumers said it was easier to return an online purchase to a store location, though only 10 percent of them actually went that route for their last return. Narvar also says stores would do well to offer service stations devoted to online returns, or train associates on how to quickly return and exchange products — so customer don’t have to wait in long lines.