One of the easiest ways for fulfillment centers to run into trouble is through an inefficient returns process. Your outgoing fulfillment can be as optimal as any brand on the market, but without a way to communicate and complete returns, warehouses can quickly become overwhelmed and disorganized.
While a product return might mean the customer is dissatisfied with what they received, returns offer a key opportunity for brands to showcase their quality customer service and encourage them to return in the future.
Conversely, an overly complicated returns process leaves buyers feeling unappreciated, frustrated and unwilling to visit the online store again. By creating an easy-to-use returns management process, you can ensure your customers walk away feeling positive and satisfied with their buying experience
Communication & Returns Management
Making returns management easy usually comes down to communication. Whether it’s explaining the process to the customer or keeping your staff informed of new protocols, clear and concise communication helps avoid many of the mistakes that come from reverse logistics.
Internal Communication & Returns
Establishing an effective approach to internal communication is central to a healthy, functioning returns management process. Rather than sending a one-off email to warehouse staff, or alerting only the shift manager about an incoming return, modern eCommerce brands need a centralized software program that can track returns and keep everyone on the same page when it comes to how they should be handled.
A software partner like Returnly, for example, provides brands with easy-to-read feedback about the status of return, when it’s expected back at the warehouse, and why the customer decided to send it back. With this data readily available, your staff can better understand how to process returns while getting a thorough look at why the return was made in the first place.
Customer Communication & Returns
The main focus of returns should always center on making the customer’s life easier. The best way to do this is by being upfront and clear about how they can send an item back if they’re not satisfied.
Whether they expect a repair, refund or store credit, customers need updates and information on the status of their return and how long it will take to be resolved. With a reverse logistics program integrated into your Warehouse Management Software, you can achieve all of this without putting additional strain on your staff.
With a software partner like Loop Returns, customers can easily start the process through an easy-to-use portal, which also displays order return eligibility as well as viable product exchange options. By following the clear instructions on Loop’s portal, returns or exchanges can be easily requested with the click of a button.
Customers want a fast, easy returns process that can be handled in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. With expectations so high, it’s important to make sure your buyers feel seen and heard when sending an item back.
If you’re already struggling to make your returns management efficient, automation might be the solution. Solution providers like Loop Returns build returns portal for your brand, meaning customers can start the process without the help of a staff member.
These portals also automatically enforce your returns policy. If a product has been washed or worn, for example, Loop can approve, reject, or flag it for manual review based on your customizations. While this process helps shrink the returns timeline, it doesn’t mean giving up control over the process. You’ll still be able to set parameters for returns based on whatever factors you choose, while connecting the other digital tools your team uses in the warehouse.
Automated returns come down to simplification. By optimizing the process with a software provider, you can minimize frustrating customer touchpoints and keep your staff aware of incoming returns.
In order to make returns management an easier process, you’ll need to simplify exchanges. In the past, customers would be required to seek out exchangeable products themselves, email the company asking for the exchange, and wait a long time for the request to be processed and approved.
Today, customers expect their exchanges on a much shorter timeline. Automation allows brands to predetermine which products are eligible for exchanges and push those items to the customer’s interface. Rather than having your customer service team deal with the back and forth of exchange requests, automation tools present customers with options right away, allowing them to complete the request in a matter of seconds.
By encouraging customers to make an exchange through an intuitive portal, your brand gets to retain revenue from the original purchase instead of issuing a refund.
What was once seen as a frustrating and unfortunate point in the customer experience, returns are one of the few opportunities eCommerce brands have to directly interact with customers.
By prioritizing coordination in the warehouse, communicating with customers and implementing an automated returns system, buyers can walk away from your online store with a positive feeling that will keep them coming back for more.
If you’re looking for a warehouse software solution that can take your brand’s returns management to the next level, contact the experts at ShipHero today.
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Aaron Rubin, Founder & CEO
About the author: Aaron Rubin the Founder & CEO of ShipHero. He is responsible for planning and executing the overall vision and strategy of the organization. Rubin’s greatest strengths are leadership, change management, strategic planning and a passion for progression. He is known for having his finger on the pulse of ShipHero’s major initiatives, his entrepreneurial spirit, and keen business acumen. His leadership of ShipHero is grounded in providing excellent customer service that drives improved business operations. His passion for ShipHero comes from the culture and his ability to have an impact on the lives of employees, customers, partners, and investors.