The trend: Retailers are turning to unconventional returns solutions, such as peer-to-peer returns and consumer selfies, to cut back on unwanted purchases and reduce their environmental impact.
Charging for returns: More retailers, particularly those in the fast-fashion space, are beginning to charge customers for returns to offset rising costs and protect margins.
Post-purchase UGC: The most effective and lasting way to cut back on returns is to give shoppers an accurate sense of what an item looks like in real life. While some retailers have relied on AR try-on to solve that problem, another potential solution is adding more UGC so consumers can see what a product looks like once it arrives.
Peer-to-peer returns: Peer-to-peer returns allow consumers to sell the unwanted item to other shoppers at a markdown. That frees the retailer from having to move the product through the expensive and complex reverse logistics process, saving them on average $20 per return.
The big takeaway: With many retailers already facing reduced margins due to elevated costs and excess inventory, cutting back on returns has become a priority. At the same time, brands have to be careful that their returns experience doesn’t turn shoppers off the company entirely.
“The return time frames and potential charges for returns are so confusing to the customer,” said Patty Soltis, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “Finding the information on the site can be tough. The retailers need to figure out why the customer is returning using voice of the customer data, then fix that.”