A ‘No questions asked’ return policy can be considered as one of the game-changers of the Indian ecommerce industry. In working towards customer loyalty (although we can’t help wondering if it really does translate into customer loyalty?!), online sellers have had to bear the brunt of liberal marketplace policies when the return policy and associated process came to question.
In an earlier interview to IOS, seller Dipti Singla shared the woes of many a seller of how this encouraged customers to take advantage of it. For example, she mentioned instances of how customers wear a certain dress for a party and then place a return request the next day!
More recently, a seller (name withheld on request) wrote to us about the returns issue faced on Flipkart. Through this article, we are trying to bring some facts to light, which if Flipkart takes into consideration, could prove beneficial for them and the merchants on their platform.
Time to upgrade returns panel?
The seller wrote, “The issue is regarding returns and refunds. For the past few months, we observed that customers are sending products back with Quality issue as the reason, although it’s pretty obvious that they did not like the product.”
Other reasons given are “Small size” or “Not as expected”. Can the vague and sometimes not relevant reasons be the fault of customers? Maybe not, as is clear from the image of Flipkart’s return panel below:
Obviously, every seller would want to bring down his returns rate for which he would need to understand and analyse the patterns and contributing reasons. But with generic reasons like the above, his returns metrics get affected which translate into financial loss.
Eventually, these products would either get blocked out of the race or the backend by the Flipkart team.
To give more options or not ..
Amazon’s return panel gives customers more options to justify their reason to return products. These include no longer needed, Better price available etc., which are reasons pointing to change of mind from customer. These do not translate into faults of the sellers, thus their ratings remain unaffected.
In stark contrast to this is Flipkart’s return panel, where the available options point to fault of seller and only him. There itself Flipkart loses out on brownie points from the sellers:
- Flipkart is making it clear that customer is always right, no matter what the stand of the seller is.
- Seller doesn’t have the chance to improve or better his products as the data (meaning reasons for returns) may not be correct or clear.
Sellers’ questions ..
And we feel they are right with their questions.
“I am not satisfied” can not be categorized under quality issue. Maybe the customer did not like the product and wants to return it, but it need not be due to quality.
In this case, customer does not like the size or the size does not meet his requirement. The size of the product is mentioned in the description/specifications about the product. So, when the problem is compatibility with customer’s requirement, it is unfair that the ratings get affected terming it as a quality issue.
It is clear from the above that return cases under reasons of quality could be with vague reasons, which affect the health of products and in turn, the account. When prices are slashed during promotions, these figures may spike up causing bigger holes in sellers’ pockets.
Is Flipkart listening to sellers?
Apparently not. This is what another seller(name withheld on request) had to say:
What we have mentioned here are just a few instances of how seller ratings get affected. With multiple options to choose from, customers inevitably look at seller ratings before opting for their purchases. Isn’t it time online marketplaces pay heed to the voice of sellers and make the simple change of giving genuine reasons as options for returns?
Have you faced similar instances? Share your experience in the comments below. Someone might have found a way to work around it that could help you as well.