E-Commerce Fulfilment and Returns Handling

October 2018

No matter what any e-commerce company does, there will always be one customer who wants to return an item. Sometimes it could be a mistake on your part if the wrong or a damaged product is sent, but a lot of the time it’s more likely the customer has changed their mind.

Managing returns can be a costly and time-consuming task when done inefficiently, that may frustrate both the customer and the e-commerce company. Our brief guide to e-commerce fulfilment and returns handling explains why this is so important and how to get it right.

The Importance of Returns Management

Returns management is incredibly important for any business as it can impact retention levels. Customer retention is incredibly important as research has shown a five per cent increase in retention levels can lead to profits increasing by 25 to 75 per cent. A good returns policy and the system are more likely to keep customers happy and encourage them to buy from your e-commerce site again.

Many businesses treat returns as an afterthought though, with a slow process that fails to inform the customers of what to do to make a return. Keep customers happy and profits should increase, so focusing on developing a good returns policy will be beneficial.

Ways to Reduce Returns

Before thinking about your returns policy, you’ll want to do as much as possible to reduce the possibility of returns from your end. There are a few simple steps you can take to do this:

  • Regularly check product quality: Stock can get damaged in large warehouses and when it’s moved around. The worst mistake to make is sending out faulty products.
  • Accurate product descriptions: Make sure the descriptions and images on your e-commerce site are correct to ensure customer expectations are met.
  • Allow product reviews: This can drive sales when they are positive, while you can also learn from negative reviews.
  • Make the returns policy clear: Customers need to know how to make returns and what the time scale is, as short windows could encourage fewer returns.
  • Choose the right packaging: Not only is this good for branding but the better-protected items are, the less likely they will get damaged and be returned.

How to Create the Ideal Returns Process

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Firstly, customers need to know how they can make returns. Make it clear what the address is to send products back to and any other requirements (such as whether the original receipt needs to be included with any returns).

Make it a quick and easy process. In the modern age this means making as much of the process digital as possible. Create an online system that can be used to generate returns, whereby customers don’t need to worry about finding their receipt and can simply enter their returns online. Include a section asking why the item is being returned, and the data gathered here can be used to hopefully reduce returns in the future.

Track returns by including a unique order number and barcode with every product you send out that can be used for sending back items. This makes it easier for you and the customer to know when returns have been received and processed, providing full transparency.

Use Fulfilment Services

One of the easiest ways to improve the handling of your return is to use fulfilment services. Outsourcing to experts and allowing them to take care of returns should ensure a quality job is done, from producing return address labels to making sure all products are in the best condition when being delivered. 

Get started with Whistl by contacting us regarding our fulfilment services, which includes returns. Simply fill in an online form, whether you have customers in the UK and/or overseas, along with an approximate number of parcels you send each month. We’ll be in touch soon to help create the most efficient fulfilment and returns process for

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