Product returns present some of the most complex challenges in ecommerce.
Whether you sell through a platform – such as Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento – or have a custom ecommerce site, you will likely need to employ some form of returns software to help your team better manage returns.
Returns software is any tool that enhances the returns process for a retailer and its customers.
Main Components of Returns Software
The 3 fundamental areas of the returns process are:
Every returns software option is a little different. And the distinctions, while seemingly subtle, can have substantial impacts on your business.
Some returns software options address just 1 or 2 of these components, others go for all 3. It really depends on the scope and sophistication of the software.
The Returns Portal
The returns portal is where the return begins for a customer.
A good returns portal collects the customer’s information, enforces your return policies, and generates a shipping label. A great returns portal can support gift returns, third-party returns, and even prevent returns fraud.
A returns portal ensures a smooth returns experience for customers, and can dramatically cut down on emails to your customer service team.
The Return Operations
Effective operations are the foundation of the customer experience. It’s difficult to keep customers coming back if you can’t keep up with their expectations.
In addition to the customer-facing side of returns, you need the ability to promptly send out exchanges and refunds, maintain full visibility over your returns, and support returns on purchases made through retail partners.
The truth is, more automation is not always better. Smarter returns automation can empower you to automatically process the returns that you want to, when you want to. Your business is unique, and your returns process is no different.
The Insights to Reduce your Return Rate
Many ecommerce retailers want more sales with less returns. But where do you even start?
The answer is in the data. Product return analytics can help you identify opportunities within your products and reduce your return rate.
Returns data can even help you identify returns fraud and problematic behaviors, such as wardrobing and bracketing.
Return Apps vs Return Solutions
Nearly any returns software option can be categorized as either a returns app or a returns solution.
Return apps act as a quick fix to just a small subset of the problems associated with returns. They are primarily focused on the user interface, and reducing the number of emails to customer service requesting a return.
Return solutions, on the other hand, strive to address more of deeper business challenges related to returns. These software options also provide a self-service returns portal, as we well functionalities to monitor, process, and optimize returns.
There is a substantial difference between return apps and return solutions.
Return apps tend to be cheaper and easier to adopt, but they lack many of the functionalities that would enable you to take control of your returns and sustain the growth of your business.
For more detail, check out this in-depth comparison of return apps and return solutions.
Operational Software vs Post-Purchase Software
Particularly within the scope of return solutions, many software options either focus on post-purchase or operations.
Whereas the choice between a returns app and returns solution has fundamental differences, this is more a matter of preference and priorities of your brand.
Both will address many of the core challenges related to returns, but they will likely place different emphases.
Operational returns software seeks to optimize the returns process: improve operational efficiency, minimize short-term costs, and leverage analytics to maximize long-term profitability.
ReturnLogic and Happy Returns are prime examples of operationally focused return solutions.
Post-purchase returns software is more focused on the customer experience. These solutions place greater emphasis on the returns portal and related functionalities, and less on the backend operations of returns.
Post-purchase return solutions include Loop and Returnly.
Both post-purchase and operations are important facets, and both are completely valid approaches to returns management. Either operational returns software or post-purchase returns software will solve many of the pains associated with returns.
Remember that operations are the foundation of the customer experience. It’s extremely difficult to impress customers if you can’t meet promises or expectations.
Managing your Ecommerce Returns
Choosing a returns software is a far-reaching business decision.
Returns impact your customers, your efficiency, and your profits. Every business is unique, so you need the tool that is right for you.
But now, you are aware of the scope of returns software options, and are one step closer to smarter returns management.