eCommerce Returns and Exchanges: 10 Tips for Effectively Managing Them

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Returns and exchanges are an unavoidable part of running an eCommerce business. No matter how accurate your fulfillment processes may be, there will be times when customers need to return or exchange a purchase.

Recent statistics show that the average eCommerce return rates are 20-30%.

Your customers may want to return or exchange goods because:

  • The product was broken or damaged
  • It’s not what they ordered
  • It’s not the right size or quantity
  • The product delivered doesn’t match the descriptions
  • The customer changed their mind
  • The product was faulty

Whether you fulfill orders yourself or hire a fulfillment service provider like Codirect Courier, returns can be expensive since you have to shoulder the associated costs. It’s, therefore, important to implement measures to help manage them effectively.

Let’s look at some of the best return and exchange management tips to help keep your eCommerce business running smoothly.

  1. Establish Return Policies and Procedures

The first step in proper return management is setting clear return and exchange policies and procedures. These should include details like what items are eligible for a return, the allowable timeframes, the return shipping costs, and the packing condition of the item. This will help ensure customers handle the products in the right way before returning

Return and exchange policies make it easier to process returns quickly. Your customers will also appreciate it when they know what’s expected from them.

  1. Create a Tracking System

Another effective way to manage returns is to create a tracking system. This could be a spreadsheet where you document important details like reasons for return, return dates, and reshipping dates. This data can assist you know the taste and preferences of most customers when it comes to different products and shortcomings associated with the products hence helping you with business forecasting and decision-making. 

It enables you to keep track of all the details associated with each return or exchange request so you can handle them properly.

Over time, you can analyze the data and identify trends that can help you improve your fulfillment process.

  1. Set Up Automated Reminders

Sending customers automated reminders regarding their returns and exchanges can save time. Many customers tend to forget about their returns or exchanges, making requests.

To ensure they don’t fall through the cracks, set up automated reminders to notify customers when their requests have been reprocessed and reshipped.                

  1. Train Your Employees

As the business owner, ensure all your employees are adequately trained to handle returns and exchanges. This includes helping them understand the return policies and training them on how to use the tracking system effectively.

If you don’t have employees to help you handle the process, you can simply hire fulfillment services to help you with the task.

  1. Maintain Customer Relationships

Returns and exchanges should never make you lose your customers. If you handle them properly, they can turn into a positive experience despite the mistakes.

For instance, if a customer requests a return, you can offer discounts or free shipping for future purchases. You can also send them personalized apology notes for the unfortunate experience. This will make your customers feel appreciated and help you maintain a good relationship with them.

  1. Provide Return Shipping Labels

Many customers don’t bother returning items because they don’t want to pay the return shipping costs. It may also take unnecessarily long to get a return label printed.

You can make returns easier for your customers by sending pre-paid return labels with every order. This will encourage more people to return unwanted items and helps to maintain customer loyalty.

  1. Understand Your Return Costs

It costs money to process returns and exchanges. Some of the costs you’ll incur include labor, repackaging materials, shipping costs (both return and reshipping), and restocking fees.

Before you start processing returns and exchanges, it’s important to understand how much you’ll be spending so you can budget well to avoid bearing losses.

  1. Offer Alternatives on Return Initiation

One of the best ways to handle returns is to offer customers alternative products when they initiate a return or exchange request.

Instead of immediately processing the request, inform them of new items that can better meet their needs. Let them know they can get an even better product once they return the initial one.

This strategy can turn what could have been a lost sale into revenue for your business.

  1. Send Follow-Up Emails

When a customer initiates a return/exchange request, follow up with an email thanking them for returning/exchanging the items.

You can also ask for their feedback about the new item shipped—whether they like it or feel satisfied with the new delivery. Follow-up emails show that you value your customers’ choices and preferences.

  1. Use A Fulfillment Service to Handle Reverse Logistics

Third-party order fulfillment services like Codirect Courier can make managing returns/exchanges easier. They can help you handle all aspects of reverse logistics, like picking up returned goods from the customers’ homes, inspecting them for damage, and resending them to your shop.

By outsourcing the leg work, you can free up valuable time to handle other aspects like processing new orders and finding new customers.

Don’t Let Returns Bring Your Business Down!

Managing returns and exchanges is crucial for any eCommerce business owner. Since they are often unpredictable, it’s always best to have the right measures in place in case a customer places a request.

Third-party order fulfillment services can also help you handle every step of the order returns and exchange process. If you don’t have the capacity to handle returns, contact Codirect Courier and we’ll help take the weight off your shoulders.

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