Returns can be a tricky thing for any business to navigate. Learning to harness your returns and make the most out of them is key to becoming the most successful business you can be.
Have a well thought out returns policy
A well thought out policy is the backbone to making the most out of your eCommerce returns. If you receive a return, you need to be able to evaluate your policy at any time, to ensure it’s in line with your company values and how you want to treat your customers. This ensures you’re being proactive, not reactive, on the matter of returns, and will help take the sting off any negative impact on profit.
Keep track of returns to find patterns and trends
Using business management software (such as an ERP solution) can aid you in tracking the specifics of returns, i.e. when the return came in, what the product was, which supplier the product was from and which customer sent back their product. This information, recorded against dates, ensures that your business can effectively paint a returns picture. Spotting trends and patterns against certain products or suppliers can help to improve the quality of products you’re supplying. For example, if 1000 customers all purchased one product from a certain supplier, and over half of them returned that product because it was faulty or didn’t meet their standards, you can record that and look to see if that product is up to your business standards. A way to tackle this is when a shipment comes in from that supplier, keep a tray of
Use returns as a chance to deliver personalised customer service
When a customer reaches out with a return, use that contact to offer them some extra personalised customer service. It’s a good idea, in your well thought out returns policy, to pencil in customer service follow up such as a phone call or a personalised email. Detailing what happened, and what steps you’re going to take to improve customer experience. If you’re issuing a refund for their return and making a note to follow up on the quality of the products, make sure you inform the customers that you will be back in touch at a later date.
Having an active list of customers who have recently returned items can also be useful in offering them something extra as an apology for the return. You can do something simple, such as send them a 15% discount on their next order, or something bigger, like sending merchandise, flowers and the like, depending on the company size, cost of products etc. Sending a discount code to returns customers may be applicable for smaller businesses who are selling low cost items, whereas large companies selling expensive items from their eCommerce store may feel sending physical items as an apology may be more appropriate. The worst thing you could do is lose that customer because they weren’t satisfied or happy with their product. E
Shape your approach to marketing to suit returns
Similar to the customer service aspect for returns, it is advisable to have a separate marketing approach when it comes to customers who have applied for a return. Emails are a good place to start for these customers, and you can use simple tools such as workflows to automate email sending. So, when a customer applies for a return, they automatically get placed into a workflow that then sends them emails of your choosing. You can add delays to these emails, and if/then branches to decide which customers receive which emails. i.e. if a returns customer opens the first two emails you send, you may not want them to receive anymore so you don’t appear too spammy. Or you may want all returns customers to receive all emails. Either way, a thorough marketing plan will ensure continuity between your customers.
Using the feedback to shape your returns policy and approach to customer service
Your policies, no matter how old or new, should be up for review at some point. Use returns as a reminder to start thinking about your overall returns policy, and make sure it covers everything it needs to. You can offer returns customers the chance to submit some feedback on their experience during the returns process, and from there you can collate the feedback and use it to make positive changes. Make sure you’re asking for their suggestions, customers may have felt during the process that they’d want more emails, or less contact etc., having this means you can shape a returns policy that is designed for customers and ensures they get the best possible quality of service.
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Everything mentioned in this article is available in our multichannel ERP, Khaos ControlCloud. And its functionality doesn’t end with accounts – Khaos Control Cloud also includes stock control, CRM, inventory, order processing and more.
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Contributor: Khaos Control Cloud
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