Two Ways to Improve Your Returns Management Process

It’s the dead of winter and your high-end fashion brand has just beat the holiday rush. Suddenly, thanks to an overly lax return policy, you receive an influx of returned swimsuits. What’s an eCommerce brand to do?

Executing efficient returns management can be difficult. After all, you don’t want a return policy that could leave you with a warehouse filled with swimsuits in December. On the other hand, too stringent of a return policy could result in a slump in sales. To help eCommerce brands figure out the best way to strike a balance, we’ve come up with a few useful tips to help your eCommerce brand construct and successfully implement a sound return policy.

Define your policy (and communicate it often)

Establishing and maintaining trust with your target audience should be a no-brainer for any retailer. Make sure to communicate your return policy on your website and to remind your customers of it when they’re about to make a purchase. Your customers should be fully aware of any time constraints for product returns, as well as any restocking or refurbishing charges.

By having a clearly defined return policy, you minimize the chance of any confusion on either end. If a customer sends a product back to your office thinking it’s eligible for return, it’s costly to ship that product back. More importantly, it’ll hurt your brand and make your customer unhappy when you have to explain that the product is ineligible for return. Remember, maintaining trust is key.

Understand the product lifecycle

Internally, your team should have a clearly delineated policy on how to deal with returned items. What merchandise is sellable, and what needs to be liquidated?

By understanding the product lifecycle and executing a plan around that, you’ll be running a more cost-effective business.  For example, if  inventory sits in your warehouse for too long, you’ll be wasting valuable space and losing money. Understand the length of which your return policy requires you to handle these goods and how it affects your other merchandise.

For sellable goods, roll out clearances, flash sales and email marketing as quickly as possible to empty out your returns inventory. Even though you might suffer a loss of potential income from these goods, it’s a loss you need to take in order to move on and continue superior customer service.

If you’d like more tips on how to best manage your returns, download our tip sheet, “Three Steps to Creating a Bulletproof Return Policy,” here.