In online retail, returns management has become a critical factor in customer experience. In a similar way to delivery, more and more online retailers offer free returns (free for the customer) in order to encourage the customer to move to the checkout: over 65% of customers check the returns policy before they buy.
Bad experience, escalating costs, long reimbursement, lack of tracking or archaic logistics management etc… A number of retailers turn to specialist partners in order to unburden themselves with this process which is often complex, in order to offer an optimal solution for both customers and all other services linked to returns management.
Before choosing a returns partner, you need to think carefully about choosing the right one – aligned with your vision of customer service and logistics management.
In this article you will find 5 main criteria to help you make the right choice when selecting your returns logistics partner :
Just like delivery, it is the way of creating a true experience for the customer when returning a parcel or an item. Look for a partner who thinks about the customer experience before the pure logistics side. Don’t forgot that your customers are the ones who carry out the return, whether it be through choice (changed their mind) or due to an order error. Improving the relationship between your customer and your brand is vital in encouraging return purchases and customer loyalty. Listen to your customers and make sure that your partner can offer services to meet your needs.
Of course, this needs to be possible for all the markets on which you sell. You need to give your customer choice in the way they carry out returns. On the delivery side you are probably used to offering your customer a wide range of solutions: click and collect, delivery points, lockers etc. Don’t give your customer a single returns solution.
Your ‘returns logistics’ partner needs to have the right combination of multiple solutions and solid operations.
Make sure that your partner can provide solutions which are comfortable for customers on each market according to their habits. Choose local solutions which are well-known and trusted by local customers (postal services, drop off point etc.) while retaining a global vision of all countries and your future strategy.
Your partner should be able to help you develop your business internationally be continuing to offer different services globally.
Do you have physical stores? In the age of omnicanal commerce it is essential to be able to offer suitable tools to manage returns in-store.
You need to have a clear overview of your returns’ activity, and the possibility to pull out statistics.
To avoid multiplying your dashboards, choose a partner who can give you the tools to connect returns information into your own tools (API, e-commerce module etc).
If you don’t have a returns experience to give to your customers, certain partners will offer you the possibility to use a generic and standard access which can be configured to help your customers along the way. This is the case for ShopRunBack which allows you to pull out data about the return and have a first overview of return requests carried out by your customers.
A Dashboard is your control room. It is important to have the information in real time: how many returns ? For what reason ? Where is the tracking ? Has it been received by the warehouse ? Can you reimburse the customer ? All these questions are impossible to answer without a complete dashboard..
Once the return has been picked up by the carrier, your customer is waiting for one thing only: to be reimbursed or to exchange the item !
Certain retailers choose to reimburse the customer as soon as the parcel has been picked up, others wait until it has been received (or even checked) by the warehouse.
Make sure that your partner is able to help you reduce the time between the pick-up of the parcel and the customer reimbursement: real time tracking to allow you to make a decision, receipt of the item at a local warehouse in order to check the item, reimburse and reengage with your customer as soon as possible.
Many actions are possible in order to optimize the return and reimbursement time.
It is also essential to ensure that the carrier lead times are respected as well as the lead times to check the item by your partner. Tracking is the key (notifications by e-mail, change in status etc), and can help to reduce the time the customer needs to wait for their reimbursement to be carried out.
Above all, in order to give your customer the best experience, the aim is to reduce the lead-time in getting the item back in stock and resold as quickly as possible.
It is important to have a good overview of your returns budget. Your budget needs to be managed and manageable to make sure they follow your marketing campaigns: increase in returns during the Christmas period, product recall in case of a problem, free returns period etc.
Your partner should be able to handle the full cost of the return: pricing according to the type of service carried out, by country, local checks, repackaging, et shipping solutions to return the product to stock.
Naturally there many other points that could be considered according to your criteria, but these are the many points that we consider essential in choosing your future returns logistics partner.
Whatever your criteria may be, make sure that your partner can demonstrate the following: quick response, ability to help you grow your business and expertise in the returns business.
Are you looking for a returns logistics partner or are your looking to improve your current organization? Please feel free to contact us.