The category of fashion accessories can cover a wide variety of products - from sunglasses to handbags to scarves. That’s part of what makes it so challenging to craft a top-notch return policy for brands in this category.
4 best practices for fashion accessory return policies
Regardless of what type of fashion accessories you sell, there are four return strategies to keep in mind.
1. Address personalized items
An added challenge with fashion accessories is that many items in this category are customizable. For example, you can get prescription lenses for your sunglasses. Or have a wallet or handbag monogrammed with your name. This creates complexity when it comes to returns, which is why most brands don’t accept refunds or exchanges on personalized items.
But if you decide to take a more flexible approach, there are a few pros and cons to keep in mind:
Pros. This can be a great opportunity to build brand credibility. Maybe you allow customers one free handbag exchange - regardless of whether or not the item is altered. Or, instead of having customers be stuck with the wrong prescription sunglasses, offer to swap out their lenses for a small fee. These flexible solutions can create a stand-out customer experience and help your brand stand apart from the rest.
Cons. Unfortunately, there’s very little chance that you’ll be able to resell or reuse personalized items that are returned. So unless you have a plan for how to handle the returned items - such as donating or recycling them - you’ll just end up dumping everything. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s also a waste of resources for your business.
2. Incorporate AR to reduce style-related returns
A great way to reduce the chances of returns is to let customers try on your fashion accessories before they make a purchase. Of course, as an ecommerce brand, that’s challenging to do in-person. That’s where technology can be your best friend.
An increasing number of fashion accessory brands, such as Warby Parker, are integrating augmented reality features into their apps to allow customers to “try on” their products. I’ve used this feature myself and found it to be a helpful way to explore different frames and styles of glasses.
If your brand has the ability to support this type of technology, it’s a great way to ensure your customers love the product they choose before they commit to a purchase.
3. Proactively clarify potential confusion
Accessories are a broad category, which can open the door to misunderstandings with your customers. To minimize the chances of this happening, try to anticipate areas of confusion and address them proactively in your policy. Specifically, there are two areas to be mindful of:
What qualifies as an accessory. If you’re a brand that sells other products in addition to fashion accessories, it’s critical to clarify what qualifies under that category. For instance, customers may assume that the handbag they purchase from your shoe store isn’t an accessory. They may be upset to find out that it actually is and therefore doesn’t qualify for returns or exchanges.
What’s the anticipated timeline is. Accessories may vary widely in terms of shipping times. A monogrammed handbag might take longer to ship than a wallet that’s already in stock, for instance. To manage the expectations of your customers, give them a general timeline for these different types of items. Warby Parker does a great job of this in their return policy.
4. Make gift exchanges easy
Fashion accessories tend to be a popular category for gifts. That’s why brands in this area need to offer an easy exchange process. The best way to accomplish this is to put the person receiving the gift in control with an on-demand return portal - like the one Allbirds uses below.
A portal like this allows the gift recipient to look up their item with the order number or zip code, change the address associated with an order, and select a new item without having to process a refund first. By doing this, you’ll experience fewer refunds and generally create a really easy experience for customers.
Build the best fashion accessory return policy possible
Crafting a top-notch return policy for fashion accessories is challenging, but it’s 100% achievable with the right approach. Keep our best practices in mind to create an experience that customers will love. Want to make returns and exchanges easy for your fashion accessories brand? Get in touch with our team, and we’d love to help.