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May 2, 2022

4 Ways to Take the Stress Out of Return Orders

In a perfect world, every customer would be delighted by their purchases and never want to return anything. Unfortunately, this is not reality. 

A study completed by Shopify shows that 20% of products purchased online are returned, often because of reasons outside of fulfillment control. The clothing item might not have fit, the electronic device might not have worked, or the glassware might have been broken. To put it plainly, returns are inevitable in e-commerce and retail, so you need to ensure you have a smooth returns management process.

Returns management, sometimes known as reverse logistics, is the process by which an end-user returns an item. Return orders can be a large expense for your business, whether it be literal costs or losing customers in a bad return experience. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to proactively improve your return order management.

Determine controllable vs uncontrollable returns

Not everything you sell should be able to be returned. For example, opened food products shouldn't get returned to the warehouse! It's important to define the different types of returns and from there determine what type of policy you should have in place to support those returns.

  • Controllable returns — These are returns that could likely be eliminated through a smoother logistics process. This means checking for improper product descriptions, poor packaging resulting in damage, slow delivery times, or general mismanagement.
  • Uncontrollable returns — These are returns that result in events outside of your control. If a buyer purchases an incorrect size, color, or no longer wants an item, that's not the fault of the seller.

It's important that you determine a clear policy for both of these scenarios to prevent your organization from getting caught up in potential liability. Taking a look at the types of returns you get most often can help you determine what is a fault in your process and work to fix it, and what is completely beyond your control.

Establish a clear policy

Having a transparent return policy is a must for any operation to deliver a good customer experience. Your return policy should always be within customer reach – whether it be on your website, a partner site, or enclosed as a hard copy in your item's packaging. This gives your customer all the information they need upfront for a successful return if they need it, and will keep them informed regarding refunds or exchanges.

Get feedback on why the product is getting sent back

Let's say that you get an item returned. You have the opportunity now to ask the vital question: "Why?" Staying open to feedback from your customer may help you improve your product quality check or return policy. Monitoring the analytics on your returns can help you determine:

  • What can be improved in your fulfillment process
  • If there is a faulty product that gets sent back more than others
  • If there is a flaw in your return policy
  • If one persona of buyer is returning more frequently than others (known as a "serial returner")

Gathering data from your return orders in this way can help you better prepare for future returns, or avoid them altogether.

Provide visibility through your tracking

You already provide your customers with transparency in your shipping process. Why shouldn't they have the same level of visibility for a return order? Tracking information and text alerts provide customers peace of mind with their orders, knowing that their return has made it back to the warehouse successfully and their new order is on the way (if applicable).

Your warehouse management system (WMS) should provide the flexibility to offer tracking for orders sent out, but also those coming in. InfoPlus provides the flexibility you need while giving deep end-to-end visibility into your inventory. Real-time updates keep you at the center of your inventory control.

Make returns easy with Materialogic

With Materialogic, you have a team of capable and experienced warehouse managers in your corner. Our team will help you conduct quality assurance checks to ensure that your inventory is at its best before it gets sent out. From there, we'll assist in keeping speed, visibility, and control front of mind in your fulfillment center so you'll know how to address returns when they occur.

Schedule a discovery call with our team to see how our approach can help your business reach its operational goals. 

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