No business wants to deal with a lot of returns, but there is also no way to eliminate them. Online businesses, in particular, experience a lot of major challenges when it comes to reverse logistics. Fraud, international shipping, and damage costs are just a few of them. But what seems to be the most challenging part of all is keeping the returns process as smooth-moving and efficient as possible.
There are bound to be a few hiccups at any point in the returns process, but there are also a lot of ways to streamline it–here are some of the best ones that all businesses should apply to their operations.
1. Choose the right tech solution
One of the best ways to streamline the returns process is finding the right platform that deals with returns and repair services, as well as repairs. Having a powerful tech solution to manage all the complicated matters of reverse logistics significantly boosts the efficiency of the supply chain as a whole. More than that, it reduces errors that are can serve as speed bumps in the returns process and increase unnecessary costs, particularly time and damage costs.
2. Provide a clear, easy-to-understand policy
A return policy must explain the process of returning an item, how much time they have to return it, and how much they have to pay; in a clear, easy-to-understand language. Include details for certain products that need tailor-made policies, such as handmade items or perishables. Keep in mind: the easier the policy is to understand, the better customers will be able to follow it.
Similarly, the return policy should be easily accessible on the business’ website (especially the order page) and the package itself. Customers shouldn’t have to scour through the entire website just to find out how to return their item.
3. Simplify the returns process
A simple returns process is an efficient one. Some businesses might think that it’s a good idea to make returning an item difficult so that customers simply wouldn’t, but doing this is only good for dissatisfying that customer and making sure that they don’t shop at the business again.
Simplifying the returns process is an excellent way to improve the customer experience and reduce complications on the company’s end at the same time. This could mean including a free return label in the package so that customers can send the item back as quickly as possible, or perhaps allowing customers to return items to a physical retailer nearby.
4. Automate when you can
Automation is a boon for retailers since it speeds up returns processing, increases productivity, and decreases labor costs. Using things like bar code scanning, inline scales, sorting systems, and dimension devices all help make the returns process ten times faster compared to having humans do it manually.
5. Prevent returns
Another excellent way to streamline the returns process is to prevent returns in the first place. There will always be returns, but minimizing them can make the whole process easier, improve customer experience, enhance brand image, and reduce costs.
Here are several ways that business can reduce the rate of returns:
- Include size chart and diagrams for wearables
- Have clear, detailed photographs with different angles
- Post at least one photo with the product being used
- Write clear and detailed descriptions, including any disclaimers
- Include a video
- Encourage customers to ask questions and leave reviews
- Offer real-time support through live chat
6. Ask for feedback
Businesses should always ask for customer feedback, but they may not be fully aware that feedback also helps streamline the returns process. How? Say a customer is dissatisfied with their order because the color is different in real life than in the photo. When the business asks for feedback, they will find out that the color varies from the actual item, and hence can address the problem easily.
Moreover, the business can ask for feedback regarding their returns policy itself. Is it easy to understand? Is it fair and liberal? Does the customer feel satisfied with the returns process? Asking these questions (apart from gathering feedback about the product itself) can give the business insight on how to improve their returns process as a whole.
More than that, the customer will feel valued and perhaps more willing to shop with the business again despite the first product mishap.
Streamlining the returns process is imperative for the efficiency of the supply chain as a whole. Now that eCommerce is only growing bigger, businesses will find it easier to catch up with their demand by simplifying the returns process, both for themselves and their customers.