5 Best Practices for Returns Management

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In 2023, total returns for the retail industry amounted to $743 billion, with online retailers seeing a higher return rate of 17.6%. Returns management has emerged as a make-or-break factor for eCommerce success. Prioritizing the returns process demonstrates a commitment to customer centricity during a time when convenience and customer experience reign supreme and also helps mitigate extreme financial implications for your business. Read our 5 best practices for returns management:

1. Develop a clear and concise return policy

The cornerstone of a successful returns process begins with a clear and concise returns policy displayed on your website. Customers should easily find information regarding how to initiate returns, the timeframe, any associated costs, and conditions for accepting returns. By providing this transparency upfront, eCommerce brands set clear expectations, empowering customers to make informed purchasing decisions.

2. Simplify the return process

Streamline every step, from initiating a return to receiving a refund. Minimize complexity and eliminate unnecessary hurdles by offering multiple convenient options for returns. Whether through designated drop-off points, partnering with third-party locations, or utilizing carrier pickup services, providing various options ensures that customers can choose a method that works best for them.

3. Invest in automation

Leverage technology to automate the returns process. Implementing a web-based self-service option allows customers to initiate returns on their own time. Digitally generated pre-paid shipping labels and QR codes can reduce the manual labor needed from operations and expedite customer returns, leading to quicker refunds or exchanges and improving satisfaction. The right technology also enables customers to easily track the status of their return, increasing transparency and confidence in the process.

4. Keep sustainability top of mind

According to a McKinsey consumer sentiment survey, over 60% of participants expressed willingness to pay a premium for products featuring sustainable packaging. An effective returns management process should prioritize sustainability at every step. This includes minimizing packaging waste by encouraging the use of original boxes and materials when possible. ECommerce brands can also implement recycling programs for returned items that cannot be resold. Additionally, optimizing transportation routes and consolidating shipments can reduce the carbon footprint associated with returns logistics.

5. Partner with an experienced supply chain provider

NFI eCom streamlines the transportation, sorting, and disposition of returned items to minimize cost and maximize recovery value for eCommerce brands. Our warehouse management system (WMS) enables our team to track items and thoroughly assess returned products for damage or defects before restocking or making products available for recommerce. Connect with the NFI eCom team to optimize your returns process.