How To Streamline Returns Management: Tips for Successful Returns

August 30, 2021
| by Rebecca Fox

Having an effective returns process lowers costs and enhances customer satisfaction. Discover the secret to successful returns management.

Returns are an inevitable part of running an eCommerce store. The way you handle online returns is a determining factor for your customer experience and your store’s profitability.

A fast and easy return process can make the difference between an “I-want-to-buy-here-again” customer experience and a negative experience. 84% of online shoppers would not buy again from an eCommerce store where they had a bad returns experience. Streamlining your return process and making it easy for your customers can save a lot of sales and keep a lot of customers’ business.

The ideal returns management process is hassle-free for your customers and cost-effective for your business. The way you handle online returns can differentiate your brand, create a competitive advantage, and make you more profitable. 

What is returns management?

Returns management, also known as reverse logistics, includes the entire process of returning or exchanging a product for any reason.

Returns management is comprised of the return shipping process, handling the returned products at your warehouse for restocking, and providing suitable return solutions to your customers.

Why is streamlining your returns management process important?

Lots of precious time, energy, and money are lost when returns are handled inefficiently. Having a streamlined returns management process in place enables you to focus on growing your business instead of dealing with avoidable returns and unhappy customers.

Analyzing your Shopify store can help you learn how you can improve both your return management process and your customers’ return experience. 

Understanding what your customers need is the first step toward streamlining your return process and effectively providing your customers with easy returns.

5 Tips for Efficient Returns Management

1. Write clear product descriptions

64% of customers return products because they didn’t match the description. Adding clear product descriptions helps customers know what to expect and lets them make informed decisions. 

Online shoppers don’t have the option of seeing and feeling the product before making a purchase like they can in brick-and-mortar stores, so they rely heavily on the product description and photos to determine if the product fits their needs.

Make sure product descriptions are detailed and clearly written, with as many specifications as possible. Add photos from multiple angles and title your products accurately.

2. Analyze return patterns

By tracking patterns of returned products, you can identify specific products that are returned more often than others and then optimize those products based on the return reasons commonly given.

Products that are frequently returned may be defective, packaged poorly, or have an unclear product description. Once you recognize which products are often problematic and what the issue is, you can take action to correct the issue.

An easy way to track your frequently returned products and return reasons is with an automated returns management system, where you can see all your return data and analytics in one place.

Additionally, it can be a good idea to conduct regular quality assurance testing to understand why some of your products are often returned and to make sure they continue to reach a high standard of quality. Product quality assurance testing enables you to make the necessary adjustments and reduce the number of future returns.

3. Give customers enough time to return products

63% of customers expect a 30-day return window. Extending the return time limit to 60-90 days can make customers feel more confident with their purchase because they know they’ve got plenty of time to return products they aren’t satisfied with.

With a longer return window, customers don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision to send back items rather than risk waiting too long and missing the deadline. 

The downside to having a long return time frame is that customers may procrastinate dealing with the return and end up not returning products that they’re not happy with or don’t want.

The ideal time limit for your store’s return window depends on your products and customer base. You can consider experimenting with different time limits to find the right balance between establishing trust and discouraging abuse. Make sure to clearly communicate the return window in your return policy, so that customers know how long they have to make returns.

4. Make it easy for customers to return products

Build trust by making it easy for your customers to make returns. A seamless return experience is an essential part of eCommerce and can make a huge impact on your customer loyalty. In fact, 92% of customers say they will buy again if the return process is easy.

Ways you can make the returns process easy for your customers:

  • Offer free return shipping
  • Have a clear return policy
  • Provide them with shipping labels
  • Use an automated returns portal

The easier your return process is, the more customers are likely to return and exchange items they aren’t satisfied with instead of issuing a chargeback or simply not buying from you again.

5. Automate your returns process

Using an automated returns portal gives your customers an easy interface to easily request a return, and helps you manage the back-end of returns. Our returns management system enables you to easily manage and track all your return requests in one place, as well as view analytics and insights to help you optimize your Shopify store.

Instead of manually handling each return request, using an automated returns system makes your life easier, and gives your customers a self-service return experience that is efficient and convenient.

Conclusion:

Making your customers’ buying and returning experience easier, faster, and more convenient begins with understanding what they need. When you know what factors to pay attention to in your returns process, you can continually improve your Shopify store and your customers’ returns experience.

Streamlining your returns process keeps your customers coming back to your business again and again, and sets you up to manage returns efficiently and effectively.

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