How the Right Returns Management System Can Help Retailers Put an End to Bracketing Practices
Three years after the onset of the pandemic, online shopping is still a top way consumers make their purchases, especially among younger generations. There are now 2.64 billion digital buyers globally, which makes up 33.3 percent of the total population, so one out of three people shop online. However, an increase in e-commerce also leads to an inevitable increase in returns.
Most retailers offer customers free returns and free or discounted shipping rates, which makes it more enticing to make purchases with the intention of returning whatever they don’t like or what doesn’t fit — i.e., "bracketing.” Bracketing is buying the same product in different sizes or colors to try on at home and then returning the ones you don’t want, often in bulk quantities. This trend has aided in the burden that returns have on retailers. A report by the National Retail Federation found that returns account for $816 billion in lost retail sales across the country, and they don’t appear to be slowing down.
Buyers can return products for several reasons — wrong sizing, not what they expected, etc. To reduce returns and leverage critical buyer insights to drive decision making, utilizing an end-to-end returns management system (RMS) is vital. A RMS gives brands back-end insights to determine why returns happen so the retailer can stop unnecessary or fraudulent returns. Furthermore, a RMS can also help prevent returns through its diverse capabilities.
Improve the Customer Experience Through Predictive Tech
To avoid bracketing, predictive technology gives retailers critical data insights into buyer behavior, product quality, shopper preference, and customer feedback to determine why they’re initiating returns. Rich business intelligence and actionable insights from a RMS offer complete visibility into the customer profile to see who a consistent culprit of bracketing is and what can be done to limit this behavior.
It's also critical to help the customer understand more about the product they’re purchasing to reduce unnecessary returns. Enhancing the shopper's product knowledge can be done by utilizing insights into what may be driving the customer's buying behaviors. For example, if the shopper knows more about the product they’re purchasing, they’re more likely to choose one item that fits their needs over buying in bulk and returning the rest.
Promote Sustainability and the Lifecycle of a Return
Even though buyers want to be more sustainable in their purchases, they often need help identifying which companies are sustainable. A Business of Sustainability study reported that 78 percent of consumers want to buy from environmentally friendly companies but don’t know how to identify them. Real-time tracking and data analytics allow for brands to view the entire returns journey — from the clothing rack to the landfill so they can promote sustainability. This ties into educating customers on what happens when they return a product. Ensuring the buyer knows how returns negatively impact the environment helps curb returns. Knowing that a brand cares about the environment and is taking tangible steps to be more sustainable can make a significant difference when a customer makes a purchase.
Overall, the increase in online shopping returns is a challenge for retailers as it can lead to additional costs and logistical issues. However, providing clear and accurate product information, improving sizing and fitting tools, and promoting sustainability efforts can help reduce the number of returns and improve the overall customer experience. By leveraging powerful insights from a RMS, companies can identify ways to improve their margins by saving time, cutting costs, and driving repurchase rates.
Gaurav Saran is CEO of ReverseLogix, the only provider of end-to-end, centralized, and fully integrated returns management systems built for retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, and 3PL organizations.
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Gaurav Saran is CEO of ReverseLogix, the only provider of end-to-end, centralized, and fully integrated returns management systems built for retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, and 3PL organizations. Prior to founding ReverseLogix, Saran led enterprise sales for Fortune 500 companies at Microsoft. He has held leadership positions at numerous start-up organizations, successfully transforming them from early stages to established growth companies.