Return orders are inevitable when you’re an e-commerce business. In fact, 20% of all items bought online end up getting returned. There are a variety of reasons your products may be returned, and lots will be out of your control. These include things such as the customer changing their mind about the purchase or ordering more than one of the same item. What’s important is that you handle returns well, as that could be the difference between a returning customer or an angry one.
Good practices for e-commerce returns
The first step is to make sure you have measures in place to prevent as many e-commerce returns as possible.
Accurate product descriptions
People like to know what they’re going to get. If a product is described as being top quality but when it arrives it falls apart, the chances for a return increase. Make sure what you’re selling is good, and if it isn’t, be transparent about the quality so no one gets let down. Including things such as the dimensions and material can help.
Package your items securely to avoid breakages
If a product arrives broken, the customer will surely want to return. Make sure you use the right size box for all items so there isn’t dead space in the box. Use a suitable void fill that protects your products.
Choose a reliable delivery service to get your e-commerce products shipped. If delivery is late or the delivery driver threw the parcel over a fence… the customer won’t be happy.
Make your e-commerce returns policy known
Make sure your customers are aware of your returns policy before they make a purchase. The more transparent an e-commerce business is, the more trustworthy they become; this builds loyalty in your customers.
Let customers know the return status
Keep your customers in the loop with emails or notifications on your app. Let them know when their return has been delivered and how long their refund will be.
Make sure your returns are planet friendly
A 2020 Consumer Survey found that 74% of consumers shop with brands who have a more sustainable returns process. Preventing the need for returns by following the above steps will help lower you carbon footprint, as less resources and transport will be needed. For the e-commerce returns you do receive however, there are some extra steps you can take. Don’t print pre-return labels, not everyone will need them and it’s a waste of paper. Instead, get your customers to print labels in store. Opt for more sustainable ways of transport if this is available to you. Finally, always receive your products back and make sure they don’t end up in landfill.
How to deal with returns as an e-commerce business
So, you’ve done all you can to prevent a return, but the customer still isn’t happy. Here’s what to do.
Have the return posted back to your warehouse
This is the most popular method of e-commerce return. When a customer wants to return, they post it back to your warehouse or fulfillment centre. From here your workers check it and make sure it’s eligible to be refunded.
In store returns
If you’re lucky enough to own a store, giving customers the option to return their products in store can be more convenient for everyone.
Outsource a reverse logistics company
There are lots of companies out there dedicated to handling all shipping related issues for you. (Hooray!) Investing in one of these third-party logistics companies can take a lot of the hassle away from you. These companies can store your inventory in a third-party warehouse; therefore, the returns will be sent there for you as well. Here is a list of the top-rated third-party logistics companies for 2023!
Analyse your returns data
The final step in the e-commerce returns process is for you to keep a record of all of your returns data. Make sure you’re asking your customers what was their reason for the return. This will help you identify areas for improvement and reduce the amounts of returns you receive.
As an e-commerce business you will always have to deal with returns. Dealing with them in the right way can ensure a smooth process for yourself and your customers. Having a clear returns policy, an efficient returns process and analysing the data afterwards, can mean you have fewer losses, and happier customers.