Source: Mahesh Aravinth // Pexels // CC2.0

A pertinent issue that most online retailers in India face right now, are product returns. The high rate of returns ends up adding to operational costs for both e-commerce companies and their sellers. This is a clear hurdle in the already treacherous path to profitability that these ecommerce have set out on.

Now, in an effort to reduce return rates on fashion and lifestyle products, online e-commerce platform Flipkart has updated its return policy, reducing the product return window from 30 days to just 10 days.

It is speculated that the platform is witnessing rise in fraudulent orders and thus, has seen a ‘drastic rise’ in returns. It is also speculated that consumers might have ordered new winter clothes and other products and then returned it weeks later after using it, pushing Flipkart to make this change in its policy.

Confirming the updated policy, a Flipkart spokesperson said: “To ensure that we continue to protect the interests of lakhs of sellers, especially small businesses, on our platform, we have altered the time frame of our return/replacement policy for certain lifestyle categories in line with industry best practices. This will minimise the possibilities of misuse and also drive greater efficiencies that will eventually help our sellers and bring a wide and affordable selection of products to millions of customers on our platform.”

This change is policy is the first major instance by the company after it was acquired by Walmart that will directly impact customers. It is reported that Flipkart has also communicated the change to its merchants selling these goods.

The return window duration change is a major development given that fashion is one of the top three categories driving sales on the platform, along with smartphones and large appliances. In fact, fashion products have the highest margins for the e-commerce platforms and the same is true for Flipkart as well.

With this change, now almost all the categories on Flipkart have a return window of just 10 days. Lifestyle and clothing were the only verticals on the platform that allowed a 30-day return or replacement as all the other categories allow only a 10-day period following a change in policy a few years ago.