As ecommerce competition continues to increase, finding incremental value in your marketplace listings and executing and improving your returns process may be what sets you apart from your competitors.
Marketplaces expect sellers to offer return policies consistent with their policies and can suspend account eligibility for failure to meet their expectations. Your ability to exceed those performance standards may directly benefit your seller rating, as returns play a role when calculating this metric.
When reviewing returns, consider the following:
Understanding why products are being returned is key
Understanding the root cause of your returns may help you identify small changes that would reduce the volume of returns. If the biggest issue is stemming from damage in transit, simple modifications to packaging may resolve the issue. Amazon, for example, adopted the six sigma Andon Cord process originally developed by Toyota. This process enables associates to immediately remove a listing that is causing a spike in buyer issues, giving them time to investigate the “why.” The same process should be adopted by your warehouse personnel. If they are seeing issues with products being returned due to damage in the outbound shipment, they should be empowered with a process to escalate those issues to product owners that can fix the issue and stop the damage. Alternatively, your merchandising team should be reviewing negative feedback to identify potential product issues driving negative reviews and provided with a mechanism to escalate and resolve them. Use data or establish a mechanism that empowers the individuals closest to your product to make changes that may lead to real savings.
Optimize your product listing
Look for opportunities to optimize your product listings by clarifying features or removing confusing or potentially misleading descriptions. Even if the product is in perfect condition, it may still generate returns if the product does not meet the expectations created by the listing itself. In identifying their seven best practices for returns, Walmart suggests, “Instead of supplying only one or two basic images, help shoppers really get to know your product so they don’t resort to ‘bracketing’” Bracketing is the trend where buyers purchase multiple products with the intent of returning all but one that meets their expectations. They suggest adding images that focus on texture, accessories/models with objects to determine scale, or adding ruler-style images to better determine the size.1
Stop paying for worthless products to be returned
In 2019, Amazon introduced the concept of ‘returnless’ refunds. It allows sellers to flag inventory that doesn’t have to be returned as part of the refund workflow. By not requiring the return of the product, sellers are able to save money by not having to pay for a product with no return value. If you are paying to only receive product that will be destroyed, consider returnless refunds to reduce your expenses.
While it’s important to process returns timely and accurately, using returns data strategically can help you improve your performance rating and positively impact your product searchability and relevance. CommerceHub can perform a complimentary marketplace analysis of your listings to help you identify listings that may have muted conversion related to product quality or give you some insight into how modifications to your return policy may help save you money related to return shipping.
Ready to get started? Contact us for a complimentary analysis of your listings or to formally engage us today.
James is an Ecommerce Manager on CommerceHub’s Marketplace and Advertising Services team. He specializes in Amazon Prime fulfillment having spent time as a Strategic Account Manager for Seller Fulfilled Prime and Program Manager in Amazon’s Merchant Fulfillment product team. James also holds certifications for Amazon’s Advertising’s Sponsored Ads, Google Ads Search, and Google Shopping Ads.