Serial Returners (And Protecting Your Brand From Them)

by Brandon Wright January 03, 2019
Customers at Glossier Makeup Store

As a store owner, you want your customers to have the best experience they can with you, especially when it comes to returns. But recent news has made it clear that more and more big box stores are starting to crack down on serial returners. The result? A lifetime ban from their location.

It makes it tough for store owners to find the line between excellent customer experience and protecting their brand.

In 2017, it’s estimated that Americans returned upwards of $350 billion worth of goods (that’s from the National Retail Federation). But wait, it gets worse, an estimated $22.8 billion worth of those goods were qualified as fraudulent.

You may have heard some of the horror stories about returns. People returning 10-year-old products. People buying a product, taking the new product out, replacing the box with something (anything) of similar weight, retaping the box to look like new, and returning that. And so much more.

How can you protect your store, your brand, and your revenue from serial returners?

Protecting Your Store From Serial Returners

  1. Have a solid return policy. Return processes will vary by product or service. Be clear in your policy on the timeframe, and the process. Make sure to do your research as many states have individual laws regarding returns and refunds. If you want to go the extra mile, have a lawyer look over the return policy. Lastly, and most importantly, make it easily accessible online.
  2. Keep track of your customers. Having a system where you can keep track of your customer’s information is hugely beneficial in so many ways. Not only will it help you build better relationships with your customers by keeping track of preferences and personal information, but you can also keep track of those customers who are serial returners.
  3. Create great products. This might sound obvious but you’d be surprised how often this doesn’t happen. Don’t cut corners with your product. Today’s customers expect a spectacular experience everywhere they go, and that includes the products they purchase.
  4. Train your sales reps properly. Some returns can easily turn into exchanges. A customer who has to return a product is already going to be grumpy. If they are met with a grumpy employee, it will only make things worse. Train your sales reps to treat all customers (especially the angry ones) with patience and genuine concern. If they can get to the root of the problem, they might be able to persuade the customer to exchange or even keep the product.
  5. Educate your customers. Do you feel confident that your customers know what they are getting when they purchase from you? It can be as simple as instructions in the packaging or as elaborate as an in-store display, or even better, a demonstration. If you know your product requires some explaining, make the extra effort to educate your customers.

The Customer IS Always Right

No matter how great your product is, how knowledgeable your sales team is, and how awesome your in-store display is, you will always get returns. That should help motivate you to create the most simple and complete return policy for your customers.

Learn who your customers are, what they return and why, and you will be able to create an experience catered to them. Sell in a way that lets the customer know they are always right.

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Brandon Wright

Brandon is the Founder and CEO of Clientbook (a clienteling tool for retailers that increases in-store foot traffic and sales).

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