Generous return policies have become the norm for online retailers, particularly in the fashion industry. After all, it is difficult to convince customers to purchase clothing they can’t try on if they can’t return their purchases. However, with return rates over 20%, these generous return policies can severely impact profits.
Fortunately, you can improve your bottom line by learning how to reduce returns.
Tips for Reducing Product Returns
Customers return clothing purchases for a variety of reasons. Entirely eliminating returns is impractical; however, the recommendations in this guide will teach you how to reduce customer returns.
Use a Size Chart App
The inability of customers to try on clothing before they buy it is one of the reasons apparel return rates are so high for online purchases. Providing accurate sizing information on all product pages is one of the best ways to reduce returns due to fit issues.
Size chart apps make it easy to add detailed sizing information so that customers can ensure they order the correct sizes. However, not all customers understand how to use size charts or know how to accurately take their measurements.
Size chart apps that include AI-powered fit recommender tools, such as Kiwi Sizing, reduce returns by making it easy for customers to find the right sizes. Customers simply input common information, such as their age, weight, and height, to get a sizing recommendation.
Be sure to include measurements for every component of every garment. Include sizing information for details such as inside pockets, zipper lengths, and armpit-to-armpit measurements. The work you put in upfront will pay off in lower return rates and better customer satisfaction.
Offer Virtual Try-On Tools
Disappointment with how a garment looks when they try it on at home is another common reason customers return clothing. Virtual try-on tools give customers a chance to see how a clothing item will look on them before they buy.
Provide Accurate Product Descriptions
The most common reason for returning online purchases is that the product isn’t what the customer expected based on the descriptions and photos on the retailer’s website. If you want to know how to reduce returns like these, providing detailed, accurate descriptions for all products is a good place to start.
Post high-quality, color-accurate photos from a variety of angles. Provide photos of different models with different heights, body types, and skin tones wearing the same garment so that customers can get a better idea of what the clothing will look like on them. Include size information with the photos and how tall the model is.
Explain care information clearly on your product page. Customers may return items that require dry cleaning or other specialized care if they weren’t expecting it.
Track and Address Fulfillment Errors
Even the best fulfillment centers make mistakes that can generate returns. However, if you are issuing too many refunds due to fulfillment errors, you may need to re-train your in-house staff or switch your fulfillment vendor to reduce returns.
Assess Your Packing and Shipping Methods
Most clothing items are fairly resilient, but improperly packed items can get damaged during shipping. Additionally, because customers sometimes order garments to wear to a special event or to give as a gift, delivery delays can cause returns.
Provide accurate delivery estimates before the purchase and send customers tracking information once the item ships. Pack items properly to avoid shipping damage and process shipments timely to avoid delays.
Check for Defects
Defects, such as loose threads, stains, or missing buttons, can lead to returns and damage your reputation. Inspect each incoming shipment before you put items up for sale and check items again before shipment.
Be careful about how you store your inventory. Humidity, temperature, and other environmental issues can damage merchandise.
Protect Yourself From Fraudulent Returns
Bracketing and wardrobing have become common problems for online clothing retailers. Customers may take advantage of free return policies by ordering clothing in multiple sizes and colors with the intent of trying on the clothing at home and then returning the items they don’t want.
Additionally, some customers purchase a garment to wear to a special event, leave the tag on, and then return the item. You can reduce these types of returns by using Shopify tools to segment customers and exclude serial returners from perks such as free returns and free shipping.
Consider offering store credit instead of a refund to customers who return a lot of merchandise. Refuse returns without a proper receipt.
Place tags and labels in locations where they will be visible if the customer wears the clothing without removing them to reduce returns due to wardrobing. Don’t accept returns on items with missing tags.
Offer a Fair Return Policy
A return policy that is too strict may cause customers not to purchase. However, a too-generous policy can erode your profits.
Many retailers do not allow returns on:
- Heavily discounted or clearance items
- Products missing original tags or packaging
- Items that can’t legally be resold due to hygiene issues, such as undergarments and swimwear
- Custom clothing
Provide a clearly written return policy in multiple places on your website. However, avoid the temptation to set a short return window. Rather than discouraging returns, it may drive them up because it creates a sense of urgency to return an item before it is too late.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Make sure customers can reach you easily to get answers to their questions before they make a purchase. Offer multiple contact methods, such as phone, live chat, and email.
Train your staff to encourage customers who contact them to initiate a return to exchange merchandise for store credit or an item they like better instead. Offer incentives, such as covering the cost of return shipping, to encourage exchanges.
Ask for Feedback
Always ask customers why they are returning products so that you can spot opportunities to improve your process and reduce returns. Periodically assess your return policy and adjust it as needed.
Reduce Returns With Kiwi Sizing
Whether you have concerns about how to reduce returns or just want your customers to feel better about how their clothes fit, Kiwi Sizing can help. We make it easy for you to provide accurate size information and fit recommendations to your customers. Visit us online to learn more and download our sizing app.