Update: Flipkart later pulled back its new return policy.
Return policies are important to outweigh inhibitions buyers have while purchasing online. At the same time, such policies are often abused and exploited by a few consumers which ultimately forces marketplaces to retract them in order to safeguard interests of their sellers and lessen their operational costs.
In the recent past, there have been several reports of online players restricting returns, but If the e-commerce industry is to flourish, we desperately need to find a middle ground here.
I, for one, don’t buy a product that I am not familiar with unless there is a reliable no question asked return window. If you haven’t seen a product yourself, you don’t always get a fair idea. For instance, a storage cabinet that you intend to buy might have very little shelf space. You are liable to misinterpret outer dimensions marked on the product page as shelf space and if your e-commerce store refuses to accept return citing that no information provided on the product page is technically inaccurate, you can’t do much but cry foul.
Similarly, images on the product page are touched and can be deceptive. You can never be sure how a particular product might actually look like until you have had hands-on experience with it.
Point being, there will always be unknowns about a product and even if all the info on the product page is correct, there is bound to be information that isn’t mentioned and there are chances that you might not be satisfied with your purchase once it arrives.
That’s exactly why I stopped ordering products I am not already familiar with from Snapdeal, and that’s also why I won’t be ordering a mobile case from Flipkart anymore.
But that doesn’t mean stores are the only ones to be blamed. There is a very thin line they need to tread here. Remember when Amazon used to have no questions asked returns on smartphones? Many people started ordering expensive phones just to flaunt them at upcoming family functions and then returned them. Such abuse of consumer-friendly policies by a select few is what everyone pays for.
In India, eCommerse players need to make their return policies more flexible, at least for loyal customers who have repeatedly trusted and shopped for expensive products online from their store over years. Losing such customers by turning away genuine returns can’t be beneficial for anyone. And besides, in online realms, a dissatisfied consumer can relay his/her experience to a thousand other prospective buyers rather easily. Amazon is one e-commerce player which is known to follow a flexible approach towards its loyal consumers and that’s one key factor for its success.
Also, for products that online stores don’t wish to accept return for, they should be a proper certification system where the store can attest that the image and product description does justice to the actual product. After all, quality control is of utmost importance if consumers are to trust online stores.
Also Read: Reasons To Buy And To Not Buy The Moto G5
To lose loyal customers at the expense of the temporary gains of reducing operational cost won’t be worth it in the long run. Especially in a market like India where the majority of consumers still don’t trust online store and would rather buy an inferior product at a more expensive price from a trusted offline retail outlet.
As a buyer, here are a few things that you should keep in mind before you shop online
- Avoid impulsive purchases.
- Read return policy carefully before you buy any [expensive] product. They vary from product to product and keep changing.
- When you wish to buy a product you should earnestly go through consumer reviews on the retail store page and also on other pages in order to get familiar with what you are actually buying.
- You can also visit Smartprix.com to compare and find the best possible price of the product and to also read unbiased expert and customer reviews.
- Keep all receipts and tags intact when you unbox your order.