Online and omnichannel retailers face the challenge of very high return rates. To generate approaches to this problem, a team of WHU researchers (Professor Wallenburg and Dr. Einmahl) collaborated with researchers from Auburn University and a leading fashion and fashion accessories retailer. Their research findings were published in the Journal of Business Logistics in March 2021.
The article looks at how shipping packaging can be used to reduce the number of returns. It shows that the packaging used is a signal that influences the customer's product evaluation. The use of high-quality, visually appealing packaging reduced the likelihood of returns by almost 30%. This positive effect is particularly great if the overall appearance is consistent, i.e. both the outer shipping packaging (the carton) is improved as well as the filling material in the package, which is intended to prevent damage and slipping of the ordered goods.