Sending orders out the door faster and faster has been the challenge for eCommerce companies for years, but now those same businesses are dealing with another issue: mounds of returns. This isn’t always because the products are defective or the wrong item was sent, in many cases returns happen because of shoppers who order several versions of the same item with the intention of returning the ones that don’t meet their needs. Although this may work out well for shoppers, it’s becoming a massive drain on eRetailers. But you can make your returns management services work for both you and your customers if you plan ahead.

Reverse Logistics can be a Value Add

Plenty of customers will tell you that they won’t buy anything from an eCommerce store that doesn’t offer some form of free and fast returns. If your returns policy is confusing, that’s another big issue. Having clear, transparent reverse logistics, however, can influence the most discriminating customers. The bigger issue is how to make this additional expense work for both you and your customers at the same time.

You can be sure that returns work better by:

  • Identifying customers likely to return items. It may feel awful, but many large eCommerce retailers are starting to invest in technology that can help them identify chronic returners.
    In some cases, these people have their account closed after a warning about their shopping habits, in others stores simply stop allowing free returns shipping to discourage chronic returners from sending so many packages back on the store’s dime.
  • Including smart labels with every order. When you’re paying the shipping costs, you might as well make everything a little easier. Make sure every order comes with a smart label addressed to your reverse logistics facility. This way that team can be prepared for what’s coming each day. Flow control is challenging for returns management because products arrive in all kinds of conditions, even their potential volume is unpredictable. Smart labels speed up returns and credits, making everyone happier.
  • Having disposal plans already in place. Even if you’ve never had to send products to be refurbished or recycled, it’s a good idea to have your returns management team cultivate those relationships now.
    Planning for disposal ahead of time will make sure that your products that can be sold bring top dollar, plus it’ll keep the mess in your facility to a minimum since you’re not waiting around for a contract before sending those unsellable items off.

Returns management is not only a big topic of discussion in the supply chain today, it’s also a way to build better relationships with your customers when it’s running well and includes a lot of transparency. After all, your customers are happiest when they know what’s going on with their orders, even if that order is on its way home to you.