At least 30% of eCommerce purchases are returned, compared to only 8.89% of brick and mortar store returns. The only way to really get to know a brand, especially when it comes to their attitude towards their customers, is by evaluating your experience when you try and return an item. Most brands do not prioritize this part of the selling process and are quick to forgo excellent customer service when it comes to giving a refund for a returned item. This, however, is bad business thinking. You already have a returned item, you don’t want to add bad feedback and a damaged reputation to the list.

Liberal Returns Policies

Approximately 49% of online retailers offer free return shipping. This makes sense when you consider that 67% of customers check the returns policies before they even consider purchasing from a brand. These liberal returns policies are forcing brands to up their game in the reverse logistics department. It’s the price of doing business online. Customers are starting to expect a streamlined returns process when they purchase online, so don’t neglect this part of your eCommerce fulfillment process, you’ll be losing a lot of business. Brands with a loyal following focus a great deal on making their refund and return process as painless as possible for their customers.  

Get Access to More Customers

Research shows that 92% of consumers will become loyal to a brand if the returns process is easy. When you outsource the returns logistics, you drive down the cost by streamlining the process, and will ultimately see an uptick in profit from new customers with a different buying behavior. Many consumers approach online purchasing as less than final, checking returns policies to see that they still have the option to exchange their item if they decide on another. The reason for returning an item is not always entirely negative.

However, unhappy customers trying to return an item they are dissatisfied with is probably what costs brands the most in damaged reputation. Reverse logistics eat cash and time. Spending more time and money to streamline this process is not intuitive to all eCommerce business owners. But by using a 3rd party fulfillment company you can spare yourself the headache of having to set up an entire department to deal with returns. With a more lenient returns policy, you will also gain access to customers that previously opted out of buying your products due to a strict returns policy. You can change the expected negative experience of the transaction to one that pleasantly surprises and will win you a customer for life.

Simplify the Process

An effective returns management solution will have an online RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) option. This can also be handled by the 3rd party fulfillment center that you plan to use. It enables customers to select the items that they want to return and also give valuable feedback and reasons for the return request. Instead of avoiding communication with the customer, like so many traditional brands, take this opportunity to gain as much insight into your customer’s behavior and the state of your product. This information will prove very valuable down the line, and help you make decisions that impact the profitability of your business.

Recommerce, a growing trend that is transforming consumption through reuse, is becoming an increasingly attractive business model. It explores the “second lifecycle” of products on secondary markets. If you are selling a product that loses value over time, you can still recoup some of the losses from a returned item on a market aimed at consumers looking for these discounted products.

Gather Valuable Information

Pre-paid intelligent return labels speed up the returns process and gives you access to more accurate information. You can use this information to make several decisions to improve your business.

You can reduce spikes in workload when you analyze your returns information and determine buyer behavior more accurately. This will help you schedule your workforce and avoid bottlenecks.

When you receive a returns request, you will be able to quickly identify a potential problem with your product. This enables you to check orders that are still being processed and have not yet left the warehouse. You can then replace any outgoing orders that have a similar problem and avoid another return.

If similar problems arrive and they prove to be numerous, it might be an issue that originates with your supplier. In this case, quick returns and accurate data will help you identify the problems early. This will enable you to negotiate with your supplier before your refund window with your supplier or manufacturer closes. It also provides information to fuel planning cycles around your inventory management. More efficiency in this department can reduce costs significantly.

By creating a seamless and mostly painless returns process, you can increase customer retention. Give your customers an experience that delights after an error occurred, or they changed their mind about an item, and watch them convert to a loyal brand follower.