Quality return management – how to master it and save money
Is the era of free online returns over? This a hot topic in the e-commerce industry as some worrisome indicators rise on one side, with no reduction in consumer expectations of free online returns on the other. Product returns can’t be eliminated in ecommerce, but those scary numbers from below can be lowered. Improve the shopper experience and partner with the right 3PL to optimize your supply chain.
Consumers were expected to return more than $816 billion worth of retail merchandise purchased in 2022, according to a report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Appriss Retail. UK retail returns hit record levels in 2022 as the cost-of-living crisis impacted consumer behaviour. Despite online retail purchases falling by 11.5%, returns were 26% higher than 2021, according to new data from returns specialists, ReBound. The returns rate for online purchases can often be as high as 30%, compared to less than 10% in-store.
On average, handling an online return costs retailers around 20% of the original order value, and we are now seeing brands such as Zara, Boohoo and Abercrombie & Fitch adding a new factor to their customers’ purchase journey – a surcharge for online returns. The policy is in place in some markets to discourage serial returners and for others to take the cue.
Product accuracy in focus
Having a great product description in e-commerce has multiple benefits, starting with conversion rates, increased customer loyalty, improved brand image and overall pushing your customer quicker down the purchase funnel. At the same time, a solid product description is proven to have a highly beneficial impact on returns volume.
Make sure to offer sizing charts and clear communication about your product’s features, leaving little room for confusion and assumptions about your product.
Product reviews and feedback are your friends
There are multiple benefits of listening to your consumers and their user experience. Even if you are an established seller, product reviews must be part of your e-commerce strategy.
These are your insights into further product improvements and modifications. Meeting consumers’ expectations increases brand loyalty and boosts sales while positively influencing return volumes.
Clear return policy
Straightforward and concise. Use a language your customer will easily understand, being clear on what exactly can be returned. The goal is to encourage return shoppers and make the process stress-free.
Restock and Resell More Rapidly
Do you have poor inventory management, and your restocking processes are not in place correctly? As an e-commerce seller, you need to master the art of stock control and find the right strategy to reduce storage costs as much as possible while being able to meet the demand. A growing number of returns and increasing competition require maximum efficiency and productivity.
Hire a 3PL
Every business has different needs, and flexibility to handle the rapid growth and high seasonality is critical in the eCommerce industry.
Fast and accurate 3PL partners can be crucial to your eCommerce company’s success. The fulfillment support helps you reduce shipping costs, automate your fulfillment, and expand into new markets.
Look into competence, flexibility, experience, and technology programs to choose the best 3PL that focuses on your needs. Automation of the order-to-fulfilment cycle is an essential factor that will enable your small or medium ecommerce businesses to outsource inventory management and order fulfillment, and ultimately simplify the order fulfillment operations.
Yet, returns can be a big strain on your company’s profitability. But also be a valuable tool to drive positive customer engagement and potentially increase the volume of returning customers.
The key is to make informed decisions, utilise automation possibilities in the e-commerce industry and stay ahead of the competition.