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How To Handle eCommerce Returns

April 15, 2021 3PL

While a business owner might like to think that every customer will love their eCommerce products, you are more likely to encounter the occasional return. Unfortunately, managing and monitoring these returns may increase operational costs that hamper your ROI.

Running an eCommerce business means that occasionally a customer sends back a product. Common reasons for the product returns include damage to the product, inaccurate product descriptions, and failure to meet customer expectations. A customer may also return a product due to a poor gift selection, which occurs more often around the holiday season.

Product returns can create major headaches for your business. You may need to deal with dissatisfied customers to determine whether to offer an eCommerce sales refund or product replacement, and whether you will take on the return shipping costs. Then your company must receive and evaluate the product to determine accountability, such as whether the issue was due to the supplier, warehouse operations, or during transportation of the shipment.

Problems With Handling Product Returns

After handling the customer, your company must focus on handling the returned product. If you do not have an efficient strategy, you may have to deal with extra stocking work and additional storage costs to return the product to the right shelves. Restocking products incorrectly could lead to inaccurate inventory numbers, especially if your company receives a high return rate for one specific product. If your company lacks a centralized inventory management system, warehouse data and order history data may not match, leaving customers and sales reps confused about how much stock is available.

So, what do you do with returned products? Some products may be resold or heavily discounted to clear them from shelves as quickly as possible. However, other products that have been damaged or are now obsolete may have to be disposed of or donated.

eCommerce Returns Best Practices

In today’s eCommerce landscape, consumer expectations are high. They expect that if they are dissatisfied with a product for whatever reason, the provider should make it right with a return policy. Additionally, most consumers expect a simple and straightforward return process. A good return policy with comprehensive and concise terms can clear up any misconceptions that customers may have regarding what to do for returns in eCommerce.

A fair and balanced return policy could result in restored trust and customer loyalty. If your remediation processes meet a customer’s satisfaction, he or she may order additional products due to your company’s personable and professional services. The prospect of gaining repeat sales is often the driving factor for eCommerce companies to adopt generous return policies.

Return policies vary based on industry.  For example, when dealing with food or beverages, a company may request that the customer keeps or disposes of the product while offering them a refund. . Check out these common tenets of a fair return policy:

  • Easy to find:Avoid hiding a return policy on your website. Create easy-to-find links and clear titles that allow customers to learn your policies quickly.
  • Clear and concise language:A return policy with easy-to-understand language may put a customer at ease. While you have many options on how to design the policy — such as an FAQ or a .pdf form — clear language on the page may help calm angry customers.
  • Well-stated deadlines:Never expect customers to return a product immediately if they encounter a problem. Some customers may try to return items that fall outside the normal term period. Always establish a clear return deadline and state the deadline prominently on the return policy page.
  • Offer free return shipping:Many eCommerce companies seek to protect their profits by pushing return shipping fees onto the customer. This practice may save you money, but it often causes the customer to skip the return process. The benefits of establishing a loyal customer base and repeatable sales may far outweigh the occasional return shipping costs.
  • Follow up with customers:Even if a customer has a bad experience with a product, he or she might still purchase more products — if the company proactively reaches out to ensure satisfaction with the refund or replacement. Interactive and engaging customer services could create a positive business relationship and allow you to ask the customer if there are any other concerns that could help to improve your operations.

Returns Management From WSI

Reverse eCommerce strategies should establish clear return policies, accountability, evaluation of supply chain processes, and ongoing customer support. As an experienced eCommerce fulfillment company WSI provides returns management services for businesses of all sizes. We can help your business handle storage, picking/packing, product shipments, and returns with our specialized consumer goods logistics solutions. Learn more about our eCommerce services and contact WSI today.

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