Product Returns Management – 6 Best Practices to Follow

In a perfect world, your products would always be flawless, your customers always happy, and your orders always perfect. But this isn’t the case. Delivery can lead to breakages, the wrong size can be ordered, and pick and pack processes can go wrong. However, this doesn’t have to spell disaster for your customer experience.

With proper product returns management, the process of creating a return and refunding incorrect products can be hassle-free. You can delight your customers with simple processes, keep your order fulfilment software updated easily, and even refresh returned products for resale.

Here at Allegro Logistics, we take the headache out of returns management and help our e-commerce clients manage their returns with ease, keeping them informed every step of the way. With our experience and completely managed returns solution, our clients always know where their products are, their customers can track process, and online systems are updated instantly.

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What is Returns Management?

Returns management encompasses the entire process of returning products, from customers creating a return and sending it, to a client or logistics provider receiving it, and then deciding how to manage reparations.

Depending on the retailer’s location and processes, returns management can vary greatly. For example, a brick-and-mortar store may only handle in-person returns, then make decision on returned items and refunds/exchange on the spot. E-commerce stores, however, may work with a logistics provider (like Allegro!) who process the return and leave only the final decision to the client.

Why Does Returns Management Matter?

For so many reasons! Namely – 67% of shoppers check returns policies before making a purchase (Shopify). So, your returns policy could be the make or break for sales.

There are many other reasons why a good product returns management system matters. These can be split into reasons for customers, and reasons for retailers.

For customers, a smooth returns process can be the difference between a good ‘I-want-to-purchase-from-here-again’ experience, and a bad one. Of course, the positive return-visit experience is desired. The easier, cheaper, and quicker the return, the more customers will want to spend with your business. In fact, 72% of shoppers are willing to spend more, more frequently, with brands that make returns simple (Shopify). Good returns processes give shoppers confidence to spend with you. It’s as simple as that.

For businesses, the customer experience is important, but so is effective stock management. Knowing where products are, and in what order state, allows for seamless inventory management and financial planning. Fulfilment software can help simplify data for businesses, clearly displaying stock numbers, order information, tracking data, returns status, and more. Leveraging this software for returns management can lead to automation and simplification. By better managing returns, retailers can turn their attention fully to bettering the customer experience.

See more: The Importance of Effective Inventory Management

6 Best Practices for Returns Management

  1. Make Returns Cheap (or even free!)

When purchasing products, customers may be put off if they see returns aren’t free to make. Whereas, if they are safe in the knowledge they can return products at no loss, then customers have the confidence to spend. This confidence to spend drives sales – ideal!

If it isn’t cost effective to make returns free, try to keep costs as low as possible. Research various courier options or store solutions to see where money could be saved. The more effective and efficient your fulfilment processes are, the more you can reduce returns costs and boost sales.

Courier Delivery Service: How it Works and its Benefits >

  1. Make Returns Convenient

As returns management becomes an ever more important aspect of e-commerce in the modern day, the effort customers have to put in decreases. Where traditionally customers would take returns products to a store, now couriers can arrive on their doorstep for returns collections!

Modern customers are accustomed to convenience, so any retailers that don’t accommodate simplicity may miss out on huge chunks of the market seeking ease. Queuing in the post office or driving to a dedicated drop-off location doesn’t appeal to customers. Instead, retailers should look to offer collections, multiple drop-off locations or other convenient solutions for customer returns.

Also consider how the return is initiated; if customers have to phone up and talk to your customer service team, customer relations may improve, but your team is suddenly extremely busy and unable to help with other point-of-sale queries. Alternatively, including a returns clip in the order packaging or having an online returns portal can streamline the process for customers and internal teams alike.

  1. Make Returns Quick

The faster the customer gets refund money back in their account, or an exchange product, the happier they are. Also, for businesses, the faster the returns process, the faster they can resale products and better manage finances. Having a dedicated returns team and proven methods can speed up the process and keep stocking smoothly flowing in and out.

Our returns service at Allegro Logistics ensures our clients benefit from efficient returns processing, without disruption to their day to day running. We handle the processing, refreshing, and tracking of returned products in a streamlined manner.

Our processes >

Get our top tips for improving retail logistics with our blog on improving order fulfilment processes.

  1. Make Returns Trackable

Modern technology allows for the entire journey of a product to be tracked, from manufacturer to warehouse and to the customer, or even from the customer back to the supplier. This is useful for both the customer and the retailer; customers know exactly where their return is, and retailers can give up-to-date information on progress if required.

See more: How Technology Transformed the Logistics Industry

Tracking is also critical in preventing returns fraud – as can, sadly, happen. Plenty of couriers offer confirmation of delivery that goes beyond a text, and even includes a photograph of the package in the doorway, providing clear evidence of proper delivery. Having the evidence to prove that packages have been delivered safely can come in handy if anyone tries their luck and claims it has been stolen.

It’s also important retailers stay informed after a return. In order to optimise future returns management, retailers should prompt customers who created returns to leave reviews and complete surveys. Data gathered from these may include why the return was made, how easy it was, and how the process could be improved.

  1. Make Returns Processes Rigid

Most returns policies give customers two weeks to returns items.  For overseas retailers, or during unprecedented events like coronavirus, these dates may be extended. It is critical to have set timeframes for returns. This means seasonal products are returned in time for possible resale, customers have adequate decision time, and products from years ago can’t suddenly be refunded.

See more: E-Commerce Strategies and Tips for Small Businesses

This return period should be set in stone and only changeable in exceptional circumstances. If giving too much leeway, retailers could open themselves up to issues and exploitation. The time limit, price, and policy for returns should be exact and well presented to inform customers.

  1. Make Returns Environmentally Friendly

Retuned items can get a bad rep. In recent years, retailers have come under fire for the mismanagement of returned products. Clothes retailers, especially, have faced criticism for irresponsibly managing returns via landfill. Best practice is to resale returned products where possible, but if not possible, retailers can consider other options like recycling materials, reducing the price, or donating to charitable causes.

As the environment sits at the front of consumers’ minds in the 21st century, the impact of returns must be considered. Public scrutiny especially can lead to huge decreases in sales.

Efficient Product Returns Management in Bristol

Ready to streamline your returns management process? Want to take the stress out of your hands but stay informed? Allegro Logistics can help you!

The days of painstaking manual returns that take forever and inventory management systems that can’t keep up with changing stock levels are gone. Modern logistics solutions and fulfilment software allow for seamless integrations with online platforms, clear reporting for clients, and simple returns management processes.

At Allegro Logistics, we combine our proven innovative warehouse management system with good old fashioned warehousing processes to provide successful e-commerce fulfilment and returns management for a range of UK and international clients. For total e-commerce inventory management and fulfilment you can rely on, get in touch!

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Case studies >

See more: E-Commerce Shipping Options – How to Create an Effective E-Commerce Delivery Strategy

See more: Benefits of Outsourcing Logistics – The Advantages of Using a 3PL

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