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Smarter Returns Management in 10 Simple Steps

Matt Blevins
Updated 06/03/20 1:05 PM

Many ecommerce retailers refrain from investing in their returns management process, and it's hard to blame them.

Returns can be very expensive and time-consuming. Before partnering with ReturnLogic, it commonly takes a week or even longer to fully process a return.

The warehousing costs and physical touches that are required can quickly diminish any potential profit margin on the items. 

On top of that, many returned products are no longer worth full value. For one of our retailers, over 30% of items returned in 2019 were not suitable for resale. 

Fortunately, a variety of returns management software solutions have stepped in to improve the return process for both retailers and their shoppers.

ReturnLogic enhances the ecommerce returns experience for shoppers, expedites returns management operations for retailers, and provides valuable insights so retailers can continue to grow their profits.

Better for you and better for shoppers.

10 Simple Steps for Smarter Returns Management

Here are ten steps for retailers to improve their returns process, start reducing their returns, and profitably scale their ecommerce business.

1. Be Lenient with Your Return Policies

It's widely accepted that your return policies impact your shopper conversion. If visitors don't feel confident that they can return products, they simply won't feel confident in purchasing products.

In addition, the returns experience itself impacts the customer experience. Imagine that each shopper who goes through your returns process tells a friend: what sort of experience will she share?

Return policies have a remarkable impact on the success of your business.

2. Track as Much as You Can

One missing button seems minor. But, ten returns with missing buttons in two days can flag an entire shipment of shirts to be pulled off the shelf. Small observations help you discover big problems. 

It all starts with collecting clean, actionable data. Consistency and precision in your product naming conventions and Returns Data are key. Without quality data, prevalent trends may go undetected.

3. Prioritize People and Processes within Your Business

The people and processes within your organization are every bit as important as the products you sell or the technology you use.

Keep in mind that the most impactful observations often come from those who most frequently interact with products and shoppers.

So it's imperative that these individuals feel heard, and have the the resources to record and report any issues they may find.

4. Move Beyond a Spreadsheet

Spreadsheets are extremely useful, but may not be ideal for advanced product and shopper analyses.

Sifting through endless rows of data, many retailers struggle to get from information from insight.

Leverage the power of returns analytics software to aggregate customer feedback easily, so you can get straight to the insights.

5. Embrace Returns Optimization

Returns Optimization involves leveraging returns data to enhance the shopper experience, improve operational efficiency, and grow your profits.

Accept that returns are a part of ecommerce. You will most likely never eliminate returns, but you can reduce correctable returns and provide your shoppers with a smooth returns experience.

Keep in mind that maximizing profit is more important than minimizing returns.

6. Start with Basic Analyses, then Drill Deeper

To collect real insights, we need more than data. We need a logical flow of analyses.

Return rates and reasons are an excellent place to start. They provide a quick summary of your product returns.

 

 

 

Once you identify areas for potential improvement, zoom in to return comments and customer-level information to gather precise, contextual feedback.

 
In return comments, you will find targeted insights coming directly from your shoppers.

7. Connect All Parts of Your Business

Returns are often not the responsibility of any one department. They are a natural and pervasive part of business in ecommerce, so the best solutions require a holistic approach.

A culture of collaboration, supported by mechanized communication, can align the goals of different teams and drive outcomes that are better for both your shoppers and your business. 

This level of connection will allow your company to streamline insights from Customer Service to actions within your Merchandising, Design, or Manufacturing teams.

8. Act Upon Insights Immediately

When you identify a problem, try to drill down to its cause as efficiently as possible.

One apparel retailer confirmed in return comments that the quality of a particular fabric was not as the factory had specified. The team traced the faulty material to the products and removed the SKU from their website before more shoppers could encounter the issue.

If there is a glaring discrepancy, respond immediately to minimize the adverse impact down the line.

9. Transform Returns into an Opportunity for Loyalty

You maximize the experience in all aspects of your ecommerce site. The returns process should be no different. You can reimagine returns as a retention opportunity

The truth is, returns don't have to cause churn, and they don't have to diminish your customer lifetime value.

10. Implement Software that Integrates with Existing Systems

To make the most of its impact, returns management software needs to access key data stores within your business. Make sure its API enables integration with your inventory management and warehouse management software. 

These software solutions ultimately exist for one reason: to help you create value for your shoppers. When your tools speak together, it's better for everyone.

Click here to download 10 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Returns Management Software

Put Smart Returns Management to Work for You

The answers to many of the most pervasive questions in ecommerce can be found in the data. Adopt these ten points, and you’ll be well-positioned to take control of your returns, as well as capitalize on insights that will drive your business forward.

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