prepare your return process for peak season in 4 steps.
Halloween, Black Friday, Singles Day and Christmas: for many online stores, the last months of the year are also the busiest. However, more orders are often also accompanied by more returns. And more returns means more work, of course, but you can also lose revenue because of it. Good preparation is essential to look forward to the festive months this year with confidence.
In this article, we'll explain how to prepare your returns process for the peak season. We cover the following points: Digitizing, reducing costs, saving time and maintaining revenue.
prepare for peak season in 4 steps.
Step 1: Digitize
digitize the return process.
Even the least tech-savvy businesses can't ignore digitization these days. This makes it all the more surprising that many online stores still stick to the label-in-the-box method when it comes to returns. A digital returns process in which customers can register their returns online independently is essential to get control over your returns.
No digital returns process means:
❌ No idea which products are being returned and why?
❌ No overview for you and your customers
❌ Many return questions on customer service
❌ Return processing takes a long time
❌ A mess, really....
So first things first, digitize the return process so you can properly prepare for the return peak. Here's an example of Malelions' former manual return process versus their new and improved digital return process through Returnless. Read our case with Malelions here.
Step 2: Reducing costs
how do I keep my return costs as low as possible?
On average, a return costs a webshop €12.50 (Source: Retour Rumoer, NOS). These costs include shipping, administration and processing. And these are costs that you can influence. Take shipping costs, for example: While free returns can help with conversion, they can also cost you big time. And you don't have to let all your customers return for free to provide the best customer experience. By offering both paid and free returns, based on the return request, you can quickly reduce the total return cost. Start by taking a critical look at your return policy first. For example, you can waive the customer's return costs if they exceed your profit margin. Or you can specify that the customer can return the order for free only if he or she keeps more than half of the items. Are you dealing with a lot of returns or complex situations? Then it might take you too much time to manually comply with these return conditions. Returnless lets you apply automation and enables you to use rules to set conditions for when a return is free and when the customer must pay for the return themselves. Watch the video to learn how you can setup these types of rules through Returnless' return rules.
Step 3: Save time
how do I ensure optimal efficiency?
Optimal efficiency requires good preparation. And good preparation requires understanding what returns you can expect. Are you still using a label in the box for your returns? Then we have to disappoint you, for fast return processing it is an absolute must that customers submit a return request in advance. Only then can you anticipate and get control on your returns. By letting your consumers submit a return request via a digital form, you immediately have an overview of all incoming returns for that day or week. This enables you to smartly adjust your staff planning accordingly. Especially during the peak season it can be very useful to know on which days you can expect the most returns and when you might need extra hands.
Besides staff planning, you immediately will have all information at hand by simply scanning the barcode label, even before you have opened the package. This means you no longer have to manually transfer information and can efficiently pre-sort returns using automated queries. Using custom filters, you can easily create the most ideal overview yourself. See the video how that works exactly.
how do I reduce the return rate?
When your customers register their returns digitally themselves, you can access all the necessary data directly online. For example, the order number gives you direct access to the order details. This will save you a lot of customer questions, simply because the process is a lot clearer and your customers have direct access to a real-time tracking page. In addition, customers can specify which products they want to return and why. This allows you to stop returns of products that cannot be returned in advance - such as custom items with personal engravings, hygiene products and opened perfume packs. You can also automatically refuse returns whose return deadline has passed or offer alternatives such as vouchers for damaged products. With an automated returns process, you save not only time but also unnecessary returns. This reduces the processing time per return from several minutes to a few seconds and sometimes even eliminates it completely. Watch the video to learn how to set this up in Returnless.
Step 3: Retain revenue
how do you avoid losing revenue to returns?
More orders usually means more returns, and more returns means you have to refund some of your precious revenue to the customer. A digital returns process allows you to offer multiple return options. For example, you can offer your customers a coupon code with store credit instead of refunding the money. To make this option more attractive, you can offer free shipping or an additional discount if the customer chooses this option. This way you avoid losing revenue and also encourage customers to store with you again. Returnless automatically generates coupon codes for you when the customer chooses this return method.
Even if the customer wants to exchange an item, you can offer a coupon code with shopping credit. This way, the customer can not only exchange the returned item for a different color or size or choose a refund, but can redeem the coupon code directly against any other item. Thus, this option is not only beneficial for you as a store owner because it preserves your sales, but also provides customers an optimized shopping experience because they can use the credit for their next purchase, whether that is immediately or in a few months.