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Three Reasons Returns Happen (And What You Can Do About It)

Returns are just a part of business. Issues come up. Things don’t fit. Damage occurs during delivery. This is to be expected to some degree, but there are ways to mitigate all of these.

When done correctly, returns don’t have to be the end of the line for a product. Damage is the number one issue that prevents an item’s resale — prevent that and you’ll start making part of your profits back on those returns and building loyal customers along the way.

Large and bulky item returns are a topic in and of themselves. What happens when a customer doesn’t like the couch they bought from you, or the fridge isn’t just the right color to match the dishwasher?

Well, they get returned. Or maybe you don’t have a return policy at all. Good luck getting return buyers to your site for another purchase.

Here, we’ll look at three of the most common reasons large and bulky items come back to you. More importantly, we’ll discuss some ways to make these returns (especially the large and bulky ones) easy for customers and businesses alike. Key in this? Partnering with key players in your reverse logistics efforts.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with the term, reverse logistics is the entire process of getting a return back to the seller. This includes pickup from the customer, transit to point B, refurbishment, warehousing, and movement between any points therein. It’s broad and complicated to say the least.

The Reasons for Returns

Inaccurate Product Descriptions

furniture - returns example

We’re not talking about ordering something from Wish, getting it four years later, and finding that it’s not at all like what the description says. Instead, imagine ordering a set of end tables, getting them delivered and set in place, only to find that they’re far too tall for the furniture. Should the consumer have measured accurately? Of course. But tape measures are hard. Maybe they were reading the metric side? Who knows?

Regardless, the merchandise is coming back, but there’s the rub — your business, the one that sold the tables, is 1,200 miles away.

So what can you do? You have accurate product descriptions on your site. Pictures. Measurements. Even side-by-side shots of the tables beside common household items for scale. You did it right by all accounts.

In these situations, the return is inevitable. The fault is on the buyer…but you want to retain them as a customer. Get them to order something else. Build loyalty with them. This is where having the right reverse logistics partner (that’s uShip, by the way) is key. With us, the return is hands-off for your customer — a carrier picks the tables up, blanket-wraps them, and gets them back to you without them ever lifting a finger. From their living room to you.

Even better? The process was super simple for you, too, and came at a price better than you expected.

Damaged in Transit

white box truck

I was in a box truck a few years ago. I was a teacher and needed to help another teacher-friend move a large desk for his broadcasting set. One thing I noticed about that truck? There wasn’t a soft surface, not one, anywhere in there. Even the seats were hard. No wonder damage rates are so high when things aren’t packaged right.

Damage happens, especially when we’re talking about large and bulky goods. They’re unwieldy, have weird centers of gravity, and they hate going for rides on forklifts and trucks.

Unless you’re using uShip to get your products to your customers (:::wink::wink:::), you’re probably dealing with average to above-average damage rates on large items you sell and ship around the country. When those need to be returned, your customers hate the hassle. In fact, we did a study recently that found if retailers can make returns as frictionless as possible, 95% of them will buy from that retailer again.

To offer your customers the best experience when damage happens, look no further than uShip. Why? We offer door-to-door service; your customers don’t have to lug anything anywhere. We’re a first-to-last mile provider—this means the product is less likely to incur more damage so getting top-dollar after the return is easy. We blanket wrap large items so those hard box trucks and semis don’t beat the item up any more than they already have.

Change of Mind

three office chairs

It was time for me to get a new office chair…I thought. I did my research and found a chair I was sure I would love.

It came and I immediately took to building. But…

After using it for a week or so, I changed my mind. It wasn’t the right fit. It didn’t feel good, never mind the fact that it came with a broken wheel (I just ordered new wheels…did you know there are, like, really nice office chair wheels out there that totally change how your office chair feels? I didn’t.)

So I decided to return it.

That was a massive pain in the…you know…tush.

I won’t mention the retailer’s name, but they are famous for easy delivery and return options. That is unless you’re trying to return something large for which you don’t have the box anymore…because it was huge, and who keeps those anyway?

After driving a town away to a shipping store, further breaking the chair down to fit in a box I had to pay for there (as well as a “basic pack service” fee), I was back to my original chair, and here I’ll stay until the thing falls apart. And yes, I did put those sweet upgraded wheels on the old chair; it’s like having rollerblades for chair wheels, and I highly recommend it.

This is all to say, people change their minds about purchases all the time. When it’s a large item, it’s most likely going to be an issue no one wants to deal with; had the retailer I bought the chair from used uShip for their returns, my experience would have been borderline enjoyable. I would have just pointed at the chair when the carrier came to pick it up. That’s it. Instead, if I ever need an office chair (crosses fingers that my old one never gives up the ghost), I won’t buy from Ama…an online retailer. I’ll buy it in person. Brick and mortar, right? Like the founding fathers would have wanted.

What Can You Do?

Returns are just going to happen, and there isn’t a lot you can do to completely prevent them. You can, however, mitigate them as mentioned above. But when they do pop up, getting large items back in your hands doesn’t have to be the headache you’ve come to know it as.

With uShip, you get these benefits that make your life easier and build customer relationships worth keeping all because you made the returns process smooth:

  • First-to-last mile delivery—no handoffs means lower damage rates.
  • Sustainability — because we are a first-to-last mile provider, you get reduced transit times which means fewer miles and lower emissions.
  • Blanket-wrap service — again, lower damage rates and hands-off pickup for customers.
  • A massive carrier network — 35,000+ active carriers. That’s huge!
  • Truly tailored solutions — returns are not one-size-fits-all, and they shouldn’t be treated as such.

In short, the answer to “What can you do?” is simple. Partner with uShip — we function as a key player in the reverse logistics solutions you have in place. We would love to show you how we can help you WOW your customers more than you already do.