Returns are a part of doing business online. It’s an obvious fact and most online sellers accept this. Online seller Mayank Bhatia informed IOS in an interview that returns are part of the ecommerce game. However, wrong returns are completely unacceptable!
It’s understandable when a customer returns a product because it doesn’t fit, the colour varies from the image, it was received in a damaged condition or even because the customer changed their mind or don’t like the product received. But wrong product returns are absolutely unfair to online sellers. This is because, in addition to return shipping charges, sellers lose money spent to produce/ procure the product.
How do marketplaces deal with return goods these days?
Wrong returns are a severe issue that occurs on multiple marketplaces. To curb this and reduce product disappearances during returns most online marketplaces engage in precautionary practices. Here are the steps followed when customers request returns:
Quality checks before accepting returns
Browntape, the multi-channel order and inventory management company, says that the courier person from Myntra and Jabong conduct quality checks before collecting return parcels from customers. Here they look at the quality of the product, search for damages to ensure the product’s integrity, inspect packaging and product tags to ensure they are intact and not tampered with. But before this, they confirm the product being picked up for return matches the invoice sheet they have at hand.
Quality checks at the warehouse
Some ecommerce firms accept returns from the seller and conduct quality checks at their warehouses, Browntape informs us. In case they receive the wrong product, the marketplace says it will refund the seller for the wrongful return.
Quality checks by the seller
Some ecommerce platforms like Amazon, according to Browntape, have returned products delivered directly to the seller. Upon receipt, the seller must inform the marketplace if the product is received and in what state.
In addition to this, Browntape says, sellers can check the returned product in front of the courier person and make a note in the Proof of Delivery (POD) section of the document they must sign when products are returned to them. Also, if the courier person doesn’t allow them to check the product, they can mention the same in the POD section.
In case the marketplace is provided with sufficient evidence to show that the returned product is indeed wrong, it will reimburse the seller. This amount, however, is not a 100% reimbursement. The money paid back to the seller will vary from 50-70% depending on the marketplace, the evidence and worth of the product.
But what happens when a wrong product is received by an online seller? How does he prove to the marketplace the product received is the wrong one and collect his money?
How to deal with the receipt of wrong products
Receiving the wrong product can be a result of a shipping mix up, courier agency or customer malpractices. To find the best ways to reduce seller losses in case of wrong returns, we spoke with sellers who have faced wrong return issues with marketplaces in the past and overcame them. Here is what we uncovered –
1. Check the package in front of the courier person
“Once we receive any return from customers, we have to open it in front of the courier person, take video shooting of the same parcel, if it is wrong/ damaged then we write such things on acknowledgement paper and sign. Also, we take a snapshot of that paper and raise a dispute with the concern portal.”
– Satish Tidke
(Jewellery seller, 2 years experience)
2. Follow marketplace claim procedures to the T
“The best practice for wrong returns is the safety claim as per marketplace policy.
Points to remember for claims
- Wrong product delivered (message) should be mentioned in courier POD in front of the order/ tracking ID for Voonik, Limeroad, Craftsvilla, Paytm, Shopclues, Snapdeal and Jabong
- This is not mandatory for Amazon and Flipkart
- Seal should be on POD
- Sign should be on POD
- Scanned copy of POD with message/ remark, seal and sign must be maintained as proof
Proof required to file claims
- Image of wrong product
- Image of outer packaging with package slip
- Image of wrong product tags (back and front)
Claim duration from date of receipt:
Flipkart – 2 days
Amazon – 10 days
Snapdeal – 7 days
Shopclues – 2 days
Paytm – 48 hours
Voonik – 3 days
Limeroad – 48 hours
Craftsvilla – 2 days”
– GD Suthar
(Women’s ethnic wear seller, 2 years experience)
3. Take pictures of products before dispatch
“While dispatching orders we take photographs with weight (product on weighing machine). Also, while the product is returned we open under video recording. So marketplace(s) don’t have any scope of rejecting the claims (SPF / Safe-t). We recommend all the sellers to do the same to avoid buyer fraud.”
– Chirag Satish Haria
(Fashion jewellery seller, 3+ years experience)
4. Refunds only after receipt
“Whenever customer lodges a complaint we clearly let them know that your product will be QC checked then only you will get a refund. If then also they do some mischief then we provide them scanning of our logistics partners tracking.”
– Subhash Ranjan
(Leather goods marketplace (Shelltag.com) owner, 3 years experience)
5. Leave it up to the marketplace
“When a customer returns the wrong product, we can claim it using the marketplace. For example, A2Z claim for Amazon, eBay guarantee for eBay, etc. The marketplace will do the research and if found valid, will reimburse the amount to the seller.”
– Aakash Adlakha
(Electronics, kitchen appliances, computer peripheral seller, 2 months experience)
To avoid wrong returns make sure you are in the right, to begin with. By this we mean, cover all your aspects to reduce your ecommerce returns. This way checking the orders sent back to you is not a hectic task.
Mobile accessories seller, Hitender Tanwar says that marketplaces should conduct physical audits to eradicate wrong returns.
Anshul Gupta, a watch seller, mentions that a photograph of products should be taken while the product is handed over to the delivery person
Seasoned lingerie and sleepwear seller Chitransh Ferwani says, besides complaints to the marketplace, mutual talks should be held with the buyer to know what the situation is.
On the other hand, online seller Abbas Bhojani who deals in the sale of women’s fashion and beauty items says that marketplaces should repay customers only once the returned product has reached the seller in proper condition. He also feels that marketplaces should stop promoting the casual ease of product returns. These points could help bring down the rate of wrong returns in online retail.
Do you feel marketplaces are doing enough to reduce wrong product returns? Also, how do you make sure you win a wrong return claim?