The fashion industry is changing rapidly. No, we are not talking about the constant evolution of ‘fashion trends’ per se, but the way people purchase and shop for clothes. What worked five years ago might not work today due to changing customer preferences and shopping habits.
Unfortunately, many businesses have not evolved with the industry and are facing the brunt of inadaptability. One such major consequence that every store owner dreads is product returns. Returns are quite common in the fashion industry. In fact, according to Statista, the clothing industry had the biggest share of online returns in 2022.
Now, the BIG question is - how to lower the volume of returns? The answer can be found in this post as we bring you 6 useful tips to cut down on product returns.
How to reduce product returns in the fashion industry?
Returns have always been an Achilles Heel for eCommerce fashion retailers due to the complexities involved in re-transporting, cleaning, and re-packaging the product. To help you avoid these unwanted challenges, here are some handy tips -
#1 The secret lies in the clarity
Any customer who is buying apparel online will only have visual imagery of the product. They cannot try, touch, or feel the product. Due to the absence of this ‘physical experience’, customers end up buying the product purely based on what you show on your website or app. So it is important to provide crystal-clear descriptions supported by high-resolution images for every product. Together they should be able to offer an experience that’s as close as possible to the brick-and-mortar experience.
All you have to do is keep the descriptions simple and capture every minute detail about the apparel, right from the material used to the washing instructions.
#2 Incorporate a size chart
After selecting their favorite designs and colors, customers in brick-and-mortar stores try out those dresses in a trial room and finally select the ones that fit them the best. This entire activity is dearly missed in an eCommerce ecosystem. There is no way for customers to try the apparel in your online store, which can often result in size mismatch issues and product returns.
As a solution to this problem, you can provide a size chart that clearly highlights the dimensions of the product. If you have a model in your photos, mention the height and dimensions of the model, along with the size of the dress that the model is wearing. Though this can be a time-consuming process (especially if you have a large inventory), it can drastically reduce returns due to size problems.
#3 Boost customer support
Despite your best effort to furnish all the important detail about a product, there are high chances that you might have missed out on certain key information about it. For example, you might have missed highlighting the washing instructions for a dress. Now, unless you have a solid customer support team who have access to all the key information about every product all the time, there is no way the customer is going to get this information on time. If they get this question before actually placing the order, and it remains unanswered, it might only result in an abandoned cart. But if they get this question after placing the order and it remains unanswered, it will result in unwanted product returns. Alternatively, you can add a live chat function on your website or app that can instantly answer queries without human intervention.
#4 Eliminate delivery delays
Delivery delay is another common reason for product returns. For any eCommerce business (not just fashion) to succeed, it is critical that you deliver the order exactly at the specified time. If you experience unexpected delays during the transport, inform the customers right away. Uninformed delays can result in agitation, which, in turn, can lead to returns. The best way to eliminate frequent delays in orders is by partnering with a reliable logistics vendor.
#5 Focus on packaging
Compromising on packaging can have a devastating effect on your business, particularly in the returns department. Imagine the reaction of a customer receiving an already opened or torn box container in their new attire! This will lead to trust issues, and the customer will straight away opt for a return. To avoid such mishaps, establish an exclusive and experienced packaging team and give them access to high-quality packaging materials that do not get torn or damaged easily during shipping.
#6 Analyze the returns
Perform a thorough analysis of all your returns. Find out more about the products that were returned the most, along with the reason for returns. If the reasons are similar across most of the returns, it means the returns are genuine, and you need to address that issue. Resolve it as early as possible before it starts tarnishing your brand image.
Even though there could be many reasons for product returns in the fashion space, a few reasons, like packaging defects, delivery delays, size mismatch, etc., can be easily identified and nipped in the bud. Use the tips highlighted in this post and take corrective actions before the product returns become a bigger issue for your organization.
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