1) Introduction to Ecommerce Product Returns in Furniture industry
The furniture sector used to struggle with the traditional business model. If you wanted to enter the retail business, you would need to have massive storefronts and extensive capital to reach customers. The bulky nature of the product meant that these retailers had to provide home deliveries to their customers. If the products are being delivered at home, the customers like the convenience of looking at them from the comfort of their homes.
Furniture is a part of our daily lives that technology will not replace. While you may want “smart furniture,” you will want it to perform its primary function first. During the ecommerce boom, the furniture sector was neglected due to the complex operational problems. However, as the logistics supply chain began to adapt to the needs of the ecommerce business model, the furniture sector was able to enter the race.
The ecommerce business model of the furniture sector is constantly evolving. The industry started with simple pictures on the portal with delivery and assembly at your doorstep. This led to a higher return percentage due to the discrepancies in the product description and actual product. In order to tackle this issue, the industry used technologies like 360 images and Augmented Reality on their platforms to improve the representation of their products.
Now, with the increasing importance of hyperlocal supply chains, the industry is starting to adopt the hybrid store model. Here, you can find a few samples displayed as they look in your home. You can test the quality of these physically and then place an order online. With the cost of goods soaring, the ecommerce furniture businesses are also adopting the rental model.
No matter how the sales and delivery process of the sector evolves, the availability of ecommerce returns for the industry is constant. Therefore, to understand this crucial aspect, let’s take a deep dive into the topic.
2) Challenges for Ecommerce Product Returns in Furniture Sector
When the delivery process is complex, it is logical that the furniture sector's ecommerce returns process is also complex. There are some common challenges that you are likely to face which may hinder your fulfillment operations. Here are some of the common issues that you may encounter while handling ecommerce returns for furniture:
2.1) Complicated Reverse Logistics
The size of the product is the main issue in the entire logistic supply chain for furniture businesses. Each pick-up needs to be handled with care. It becomes difficult to optimize the pickup process in the rental space as a single company may sell products of different sizes.
2.2) Handling and Setup Costs
The final assembly of the product is usually done on-site for convenience. If there are product issues that surface, the product must be dismantled and packed again before it can be put in transit for return. This adds to the labor costs. In the rental space, if the pick-up guys do not check for damages properly, you may have to bear the cost of the damages to the goods.
2.3) Cost of Returns
Although the furniture sector does not have a high return rate, the industry has the highest return costs across the ecommerce sector. The bulky transport and the labor charges increase the cost of returns significantly. Reducing this return cost is a significant challenge for businesses in the industry.
2.4) Cost of Goods
When an item is returned, it will spend more time in transit. If the customer or your carrier does not package it properly, it is more likely to get damaged. The cost of goods is high in the sector, so lost or damaged shipments can significantly impact your bottom line.
3) Best Ecommerce Product Returns Practices for Furniture Products
Now that we have an idea of the different challenges in ecommerce returns in the furniture sector let’s discuss some best practices you can implement to reduce your average rate of return. These practices will help you enhance your customer's shopping experience and improve profitability. Some of these practices are:
3.1) Use Reusable Packaging
As your carrier won’t diligently pack your products when processing the return, you can send your products in reusable packaging. This makes it easier for you to ask your customer or even your carrier to properly pack your goods so that you are not damaged in transit.
3.2) Accurate Product Content
One of the main reasons for return requests in the furniture sector is the difference between the site listing and the actual product. So, try to have accurate product descriptions on your website. Use specific color names and high-resolution images to describe the product's look accurately. If you have used additional products in the product visuals for look and feel, do not forget to mention so in the descriptions.
3.3) Display Technologies
Use various display technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to represent your products on the website. They may cost more than regular product visuals but can increase conversions and reduce return rates simultaneously.
3.4) Return Policy
A comprehensive returns policy covering everything is the best weapon for tackling unnecessary ecommerce product returns. For the furniture sector, it is vital to outline a returns policy for each product category as you may have to implement different strategies.
4) Importance of Ecommerce Product Returns in the Furniture Industry
Ecommerce returns in the furniture sector may seem like too much hassle. But, the importance and benefits of having a seamless return feature on your website make it worth the trouble. The delivery process of the furniture industry can be pretty complex. The industry must deal with damaged goods as some items are fragile while others are prone to weather damage. On the other hand, the cost of these goods is high and the life is long. Therefore, the customers want the product in picture-perfect condition.
Furniture is a sector where customer trust and product quality are more important than cost. Most customers prefer a quality product and service, even if it means paying a few extra bucks. A returns feature allows you to build this brand perception with your current customers. The products in the furniture sector also have a warranty period. Therefore, to handle defective products, an ecommerce business in the furniture sector needs to have a reverse flow to process this.
These warranty products cannot be usually resold but must be returned to the warehouse to verify the reasons. Hence, even if you don’t want a returns feature, you will have to establish a returns process. You should make the most of the field’s requirements and take the customer experience further. The ecommerce returns in the furniture sector are equally important in the rental space. Since most of the products are rented repeatedly, product issues are more likely. The returns flow also needs to be optimized so that you can maximize the revenue from the items post the rental period.
5) Using AR to reduce Ecommerce Product Returns in Furniture
The developments in visual technologies have fueled the growth of the ecommerce sector. Businesses are constantly finding better ways to represent their products on the screen. Augmented reality technology has taken over the furniture sector. In furniture, the product's look and aesthetic is crucial.
In augmented reality technology, your customers can experience the almost real-life-like version of your product on their screens without any additional or special equipment. This helps businesses reduce the return rate as the customers can share the product before purchasing it. The furniture sector has taken this one step further by installing its furniture in virtual environments. This allows the customers to visualize what their home would like with a table. The brands can improve their conversions and brand image by representing a particular lifestyle.
Virtual stores have also become quite popular in the pandemic and post-pandemic era. These stores allow you to browse as you would in an actual store with high-quality images, product videos, and 360 graphics. Brands have been using these techniques to reduce their expenditure on in-store displays and attract more customers by improving shopping convenience. All these factors contribute to the customer's comfort and aid the customer in making an informed decision. A knowledgeable customer that purchased adequate information is less likely to return a specific product.
In the ecommerce sector, technology has bridged the gap between the actual product and virtual representation. The furniture sector struggled with the traditional business model due to high storefront costs while handling deliveries and return transit. The furniture sector used the ecommerce business model to extend its geographical reach.
The ecommerce product returns for furniture products were an essential part of the growth of the online segment. The technological developments in the logistics sector made it possible for businesses to adopt the returns feature seamlessly. Some companies in the industry also evolved into renting and rent-and-buy models to improve their conversions and increase their revenue. The business model of the furniture industry may constantly evolve, but ecommerce returns will be at the center of each viable idea.
7) FAQs about Ecommerce Product Returns in Furniture
7.1) How can I improve my ecommerce returns process for bulkier products?
You can use third-party warehousing partners to reduce the distance your goods travel. If you frequently deal with bulky products in your furniture business, it may be wiser to tie up with carriers specializing in that area. If you want to optimize the logistics process, you can partner with a returns management portal like ClickPost to automate and optimize your ecommerce returns process.
7.2) What is the best way to reduce the ecommerce return rate in the furniture sector?
One of the best ways to reduce the ecommerce return rate in the furniture sector is to invest in improving product visuals. Most businesses are adopting AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) to enhance their customers' shopping experience.