Returns Processing

A critical component of your ecommerce business

Processing e-commerce returns is an essential part of online retail, and both online retailers and 3PLs must have effective strategies to handle returns. Apparel retailers can have returns rates exceeding 20% of the outbound order volume. The associated costs of shipping and handling returns can have a major impact on the overall success of the business.

Here are some strategies to consider as you’re developing your solutions for efficient returns processing for your e-commerce warehouse:

1. Make the Returns Process Easy: Simplify the returns process for customers by providing clear instructions and making it easy to initiate a return. In fact, many shoppers base their buying decisions on the ability and convenience of the Returns Policy. These tactics can help reduce customer frustration, improve their experience, and create long-term value.

Some retailers insert a pre-printed return label with every order. This is obviously convenient and provides the client with an easy method for returning the goods.

An RMA (Return Material Authorization) process asks the client to verify their return. This extra step can provide some reasons for returns and allow options for exchange or refund, as well as printing a return label.

2. Provide Transparency: Provide customers with regular updates on the status of their return, from receipt to refund or exchange. There are several viable methods for processing credits/refunds based on a scan of the return label – customers love a fast refund. If this fits your strategy, it can help build trust with customers and reduce the likelihood of negative reviews.

3. Inspect Returns Promptly: Inspect returned items as soon as possible to determine their condition and eligibility for a refund or exchange. It is best to identify a problem with a return quickly and not create a backlog of returns to process. Leveraging good technology for tracking returns at every stage also identifies product issues and can be valuable in navigating any disputes.

4. Restock Returned Items Quickly: Restocking returned items as quickly helps minimize the impact on inventory and improve cash flow. This requires efficient processing and warehouse management, WMS, and systems that make products available for resale in real-time.

5. Monitor and Analyze Returns: Track and analyze returns data to identify trends and potential issues. This can help retailers improve their products, processes, and customer experience over time. Retailers can use the learnings from this information to help to reduce the overall number of returns. Some examples include providing more product information about sizing and client reviews to avoid selling the wrong items in the first place.

6. Outsourcing Returns to a Consolidator:

There are numerous “returns consolidators” that are available for retailers to consider. These services can provide value for both the retailer and the consumer. Generally, integrating with consolidators is not a heavy lift. Returns Consolidators have given retailers more options for returns processing, and they relieve some of the burden on internal resources.

By implementing effective returns processing options and strategies, online retailers and warehouse fulfillment companies can improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and increase efficiency. Boxzooka returns processing technologies combined with our lean operational workflow empower our clients to get their products back into sellable condition quickly. Boxzooka welcomes the opportunity to work with you on a returns process that is tailored to your brand and your clients.

By Tom Behnke

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