I love to read about our industry. It’s really an exciting place to be as more people place greater value upon their warehouse logistics. The one thing I hate though is faulty research all in the name of marketing. I see too many organizations who have their marketing or PR team make unfounded claims that they think that by cloaking the claims under the premise of “research” that the industry will believe their findings are credible. 

 So what set me off today, enough to write this … I read some “industry” research today that I consider dead wrong in its conclusion. The headline for the research in question stated “…Research Indicates That Most Online Purchases are Returned Due to Retailer Error”.  They go onto state “The research results prove that the clear majority – 65% – of respondents answered that most often the reason they return items bought online or by phone is because the item received is incorrect”.  Their second finding was that “84% of respondents stated that the return process is extremely or very important to their future intentions to shop with a retailer”. With this being the week of NRF in New York, it’s amazing that any retailer would find any credibility in these “research” assertions.

I started to think about my own life to quickly invalidate what I believe to be wrong research conclusions.  The headline states that returns are “due to retailer error”. Wrong! Most retailers have quite accurate order fulfillment systems in place. Many retailers are now achieving order accuracy over 99%. The top reasons why people return items bought online is because the item does not fit or it is not the color that thought or it’s just not a flattering fashion fit. The consumer returns the item not due to an error by the retailer, but because the item is “not right for them”… but, no error was committed by the retailer in their order fulfillment process which is the main faulty assertion in the research findings.  As an example from my own life, my lovely wife buys shoes from Zappo’s and clothes from J.Crew more than you might think. I’m treading carefully here…  The items she orders show up on time and are correct virtually every time.  Remember, retailers are now achieving order accuracy over 99% and our household can confirm these accuracy levels. But, once the shoes or clothes are tried on…it turns out that they are not what she expected and hoped for… and probably 35% of her orders are returned smoothly without effort.  Over the years, she has become educated to know what designers are not a good for her. She knows for example that with a narrow foot, only certain manufacturers offer “narrow” sizes that properly fit her foot. None of the “incorrect” orders is the fault of the retailer.