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How to Handle the Problem of Serial Returners?

Shopping returns, both online and in-store, have become a widespread phenomenon today. In fact, across the U.S. there has been a steady rise in the number of serial returners in the last year, which is a growing cause of concern for retail companies.

The retail giant Amazon’s returns policy and one-hour delivery options are part of the company’s core offerings, and have been considered some of the primary reasons for its incredible growth and success. However, last year, Amazon made news when it banned some customers who took advantage of its returns policy via serial returns.

Usually, when retailers offer easy return and replacement options, it is part of a strategy to entice customers to shop with them again. This is an important marketing strategy that has led many retailers to great success. Lenient return policies have helped brands establish trust with customers, building a loyal and lucrative customer base, as shoppers have the freedom to return products that they are not satisfied with.

Some customers abuse return policies by buying clothes for a special occasion, and returning them the very next day. Today, with social media presence being treated as a big thing, people buy clothes only to take a picture in them, post it on Instagram and other social media sites, and return it the very next day. Shopping just for a hashtag moment and returning the item is a rising trend.

Serial returners can cost retailers and the logistics department or partner that deals with the deliveries a lot, in terms of time and money. Here are some options to deal with the problem of serial returners.

Banning Serial Returners

It’s not just Amazon that is struggling to manage billions of dollars in losses due to the misuse of their customer returns policy by serial returners. Best Buy and other chains have started to track customers’ shopping behavior, while limiting items that they return in order to reduce losses. While many retailers are considering banning serial returners, there is the risk of a massive backlash from shoppers who abandon them for such policies.

Risk Rating of Returners

Some retailers use an assessment similar to the credit rating called the The Retail Equation (TRE) to detect fraudulent customer behavior. When a return is made, TRE software is used to scan the customer’s shopping history using his driver’s license or any other state-issued ID. The system also provides a data-driven decision based on verifiable data about the validity of the return, instead of simply making a guess. This system helps identify serial returners instead of suspecting every customer.

Better Size Charts & Comprehensive Product Information

Offering detailed product information can enable customers to choose the right item. For example, if it’s clothing, offering exact measurements and sizes based on the country’s measuring units can be very helpful. This strategy also includes showcasing customer reviews and presenting detailed information on design, materials used, etc. For non-clothing items, customer reviews, videos and pictures in different angles can help the buyer choose wisely. A better informed customer is less likely to make the wrong choice and this will reduce returns.

Reduce Return Time Window

Another option to curb serial returns is to curtail the amount of time allotted to make a return. It enables logistics to plan for deliveries, and inventory management team can forecast the demand-supply better. Usually, retailers allow a 30-day window, which can be reduced based on customer’s return history when required. Concepts like Prime Wardrobe and The Fitting Roomer allow customers to order 3-8 clothes per order, that can be returned within one week without charges. This largely reduces risk associated with returns, and gives customers the confidence to shop with the brand again.

Clarify Return Policy

A good returns policy is essential to remain competitive. However, customers sometimes claim that they are not aware of the details of the returns policy when an issue arises. To avoid this issue, retailers must clearly state the returns policy at the checkout stage. Including important refund and exchange information on emails, printing it on receipts, and insisting on reading and accepting the policy during purchases are options that make the customer understand your policy, and be aware of the implications.

In the case of smaller brands, offering free shipping and managing an increasing number of serial returners can be a significant logistics challenge. While the issue of serial returners haunts the retail industry, brands need to continue to serve customers in innovative ways, which requires them to rethink their existing returns policies.

Aside from the issue of serial returners, retailers must keep customers happy to ensure repeat business and long-term success. There are three things that paying customers demand – ease, speed, and convenience. Retailers can handle complex and heavy logistics, and delight shoppers with customer-centric delivery by choosing a robust delivery management solution. If you are looking to ease your delivery woes, IGotIt is the right choice. Our delivery management solution provides a backbone for effective delivery with better control, scalability, responsiveness and visibility across the entire delivery journey. Get in touch with us to know more or to book a demo.

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