Regular readers of our blog know that we are very passionate about Indian Retail (including retail of Indian Designers) and the challenges relating to translating this experience to an internet shopping experience in India. The challenges are many, but in our opinion one of the key policies that hinder the space is a customer friendly return policy from retailers.
One of the key enablers for e-commerce in general (and specifically for high priced products like Designer Clothing) is the comfort to consumers that the risk of shopping online is low and there is always an option to go back to the retailer in case their purchases do not match their expectations.
If a customer cannot try and see herself in the mirror to check the look, the fit, etc. they should at the least have an option to return the products. Customised clothing and creations are going to find it tough to live up to the expectations of returnable products, given the up-front costs involved in creating these products, but the ready to wear products need to have an option to return products. This is no longer a luxury, but a hygiene factor for a modern customer that is expecting a great online shopping experience.
On an analysis of the return policies of the major online retailers in India, one notices that around 90% of them offer only a store credit for returns and only a small number of retailers offer a refund in case of returns.
It is easy to see why most of the e-retailers in India are selling standard products like Books, CD's, etc. and not really products that need to be tried in order for a purchase decision to be made. Is this going to change? We believe that it has to change if the customer is expected to make purchases of clothing online and buy confidently.