For e-Commerce retailers, as it turns out, selling the thing is the easy part.

Dealing with the nearly one-third of those sales when they come home to roost can be a cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming process. It’s an unfortunate reality that must be faced if an online retailer wants to succeed, however.

e-Commerce Returns Management Approaches

Your business has a unique relationship with its customers, but ultimately most shoppers with returns want transparency and speed out of your reverse logistics process. Your company, on the other hand, needs to cut costs as deeply as possible without damaging the customer experience.

Here are a few ways to make everybody happy:

  • Ask the right questions. Have your customer print a custom shipping label from your website after answering a few questions.This way, your system can choose the right facility to receive the return, eliminating multiple trips (and added shipping costs) between your warehouses. Alternatively, this can also be used to direct the item to a order processing center that has a significant demand for it.
  • Try smart labels. Smaller eCommerce companies may find themselves doing their own returns management.Taking advantage of tech like smart labels will keep your team informed as to how many packages they should expect to come in that day, allowing team leads to plan accordingly. If you only have a dozen or so returns one day, one or two people can probably handle them while the rest go work on the pick floor. If you have 100 returns the next day, though, it’s gonna be an “all hands on deck” situation.

    Either way, you don’t have to worry about any surprises from your reverse supply chain.

  • Partner up. Even if you’re not working with a reverse logistics specialist, you can take advantage of some of the same tools these companies use to move products around the supply chain in bulk.For example, Happy Returns is a “returns bar” that allows shoppers to return items in person to participating virtual merchants. Happy Returns then packages your items, sorts them and sends them back to your company as a bundle to save on freight. From there, you could have a liquidation specialist like B-Stock break down the lots that you can’t resell as new and sort them so they’ll bring top dollar on the secondary market.

Although returns aren’t the most fun or profitable part of your business, it’s vital to stay on top of them or you put your operation at risk of serious financial trouble. These are just a few easy approaches for companies that want to handle their own reverse supply chain. Many choose instead to contract with a returns management company that does nothing but returns for a variety of companies.