Turn Refunds Into Many Happy Returns
Whether you process returns from in-store or online purchases, pass these reasons on to your Web content team. Just like the presence of negative reviews, sharing reasons for return on your site helps build trust with the consumer (shows you're open and have nothing to hide, helps the customer make an informed purchase decision). You can work the reasons for return into product description copy or even include a separate section on the product page. One example is Shoeline's Return-O-Meter, but you can also just list them in text format like customer reviews.
Taking this one step further, you can post reasons for return in a Question and Answer tool, with your store staff commenting on alternative products (with links) or other advice such as "this brand fits snug, so try a size larger."
"Reason for return: Brought the desk home and it was not the right white for our daughter's room. Drawers also a bit too small."
Staff tip: "This desk is a very creamy white (a bit of a yellow tint) and may not look right if your walls are white-white or the decor has bluish white or grayish white in it. Looks good in rooms with pink, yellow, orange and other warm tones. The drawers are 8x12x6" which holds items like crayons, CDs, jewelry and small toys but may not be suitable for larger toys or books."
Using a cross-sell strategy like Amazon's What Do Customers Ultimately Buy After Viewing This Item? feature can direct customers who "pass" on the item to similar products from your store that might better suit their needs:
The more trust you can build with future customers, the better chance they will favor your business and make many happy returns to your site. Being open about the reasons for return saves yourself for accepting returns in the future -- customers can make more informed purchase decisions.