International Returns Made Easy: Managing Global Returns
August 02, 2023
by Rebecca Fox

Different regulations, languages, and logistics make international returns a unique challenge. Providing a streamlined, automated, and localized return experience for international customers will help you scale for international growth.

What Are the Challenges of Managing International Returns?

International eCommerce offers huge opportunities for growth. The cross-border eCommerce market is estimated to reach approximately $7.9 trillion by 2030.

However, running an international eCommerce business also comes with unique challenges – especially when it comes to returns.

There are several things to keep in mind when processing international returns, including:

  • Rules and regulations – Each country has its own set of return policies and regulations. You need to research and understand the rules that apply to each country you serve.
  • Language barriers – Language differences can lead to misunderstandings and confusion during the returns process. Overcoming language barriers is crucial to providing a seamless experience for your international customers.
  • Return shipping costs – International shipping costs can be significantly higher than domestic shipping, making it essential to find a cost-effective way to manage international returns.

How to Effectively Manage International Returns

Handling international returns properly requires careful planning and execution. Here’s how to provide a smooth and efficient international returns service:

Determine Eligible Countries

Decide which countries you want to be able to accept returns from. Research each country’s regulations to understand the return policies and legal obligations specific to each location. This will help you navigate the requirements involved in cross-border returns.

When determining your eligible countries, consider factors like return shipping costs. International shipping costs can be significantly higher than domestic shipping, which can impact your profitability and long-term success. Evaluating these costs will help you plan and budget for international returns more effectively.

To minimize complications, you can start your international expansion with just a few countries before expanding globally. This way, you can test your returns process and fine-tune it based on customer feedback and operational performance, before scaling up to more locations.

Create Location-Specific Return Policy Rules

Once you’ve determined which countries you want to accept returns from, it’s essential to tailor your return policy based on the specific needs of each location. 

As different countries will have different regulations, shipping costs, and requirements, a one-size-fits-all return policy is unlikely to work for international returns. 

  • Return window – Customize your return window length by country, state, or city, taking into account the average shipping time to each location. This way, customers in different regions will have a reasonable amount of time to initiate a return.
  • Eligibility conditions – Define location-based eligibility conditions to specify which items can be returned from where. Some products may have legal or customs restrictions, making them ineligible for returns, or you may want to restrict customers from certain locations from being able to request certain kinds of refunds or exchanges.
  • Fees – Set location-specific fees, such as who pays for return shipping. Depending on shipping costs and distance, you may want to charge different return fees for customers in different locations.

Generate International Return Labels

To simplify the return shipping process for international customers, integrate shipping carriers that can generate international return labels. 

Automatically generate return shipping labels to save time and reduce the potential for errors.

Implementing an automated system to generate return labels for international customers will enhance the returns experience and streamline cross-border returns.

Provide Localized Communications

To provide a positive returns experience for your international customers, effective communication is crucial. 

Overcome language barriers by providing return instructions in the native language of each eligible country, to ensure that customers can easily understand the steps to initiate a return.

75% of customers are more likely to purchase from the same store again if customer service is in their native language, so providing a localized returns experience can significantly affect customer satisfaction.

When confirming a return, display the refund amount in the customer’s local currency. This personal touch enhances the customer experience and avoids confusion about the refund amount. 

By providing localized communications, you can build trust and loyalty with your international audience.

Automate Your Returns Workflow for International Returns

To optimize your international returns process and streamline your operations, take advantage of advanced returns software like ReturnGO

ReturnGO is a powerful returns management system that helps you automate your returns with a localized self-service return portal, so customers can easily initiate returns, track the progress of their returns, and receive timely updates in their native language, reducing the need for customer support intervention.

With ReturnGO, you can manage international returns in one centralized system, regardless of the countries involved.

The comprehensive returns analytics provide visibility into global customer return behavior, to help you anticipate returns volume, identify trends in specific regions, and tailor your return policies and strategies accordingly.

Chat with our experts to boost your customer return experience and LTV today.

Returns Without Barriers

In order to grow your eCommerce business globally and reach new markets, you need to have a returns process that can handle international returns. 

Delight customers around the world and scale for international growth by setting up a streamlined and automated international returns workflow.

ReturnGO can help you set up simple, localized returns for your online store so that you can manage international returns as easily and efficiently as domestic returns.

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