Returns aren’t fun for anyone. They aren’t fun for the customer, who was initially excited about whatever product he or she purchased and quickly learned it wasn’t for them. They aren’t fun for the retailer, who has to reintroduce the item into inventory, inspect it to make sure it’s in good condition, repackage it, and issue a refund. Then they have to sell it again. On both sides, it wastes time, money, and energy that could all be better spent on other projects. Fortunately, there are ways to limit the number of returns you get in the first place.
Returns can happen for a number of reasons: an item didn’t fit well or didn't work correctly, there were pieces missing, or the customer just had a change of heart. A lot of returns, however, can be attributed to the quality of an item. That’s not to say how it’s made, necessarily; you produce the best product you’re able to produce. Rather, sometimes a flaw shows up in items that are mass-produced, through no fault of any one person in particular. Inspecting the items to make sure they’re pieced together correctly before they’re even stocked makes a huge difference in returns.
Ecommerce is funny, and it’s different than buying in a store. When you buy something at a storefront, you get the immediate satisfaction of having the item in your possession. You can wear it or use it right away. With ecommerce, on the other hand, there’s a waiting game. In some cases, it can take retailers up to a week to deliver the goods. That’s a lot of thinking time for shoppers. They can really easily decide that whatever attracted them to the item in the first place isn’t as important as they originally thought. Once they finally receive the product, they don’t want it anymore.
If you’re able to get them their product quickly, however, that changes everything. Take out the thinking and second-guessing from the buying process, and suddenly returns aren’t so frequent. It’s all about getting the packages out quickly and on their way as soon as possible.
Sometimes people just receive the incorrect product. This goes back to picking, and making sure the order is picked accurately and sorted correctly. There are multiple kinds of picking, some of which we’ve discussed in previous blogs, and different types work well for different warehouses. If an ecommerce fulfillment company is consistently sending out incorrect orders and then dealing with the returns, you’re going to run into customer satisfaction issues.
Limit returns and you’ll make everyone happy, from customers to employees. You’ll save time, money, and you’ll be able to focus on other aspects of your job instead of dealing with reverse logistics. Of course, you can always consider outsourcing ecommerce fulfillment—and returns—to a company that specializes in it.
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