How to Streamline Reverse Logistics and Minimize Product Returns

Product returns are an unavoidable part of any e-commerce and mail order fulfillment business. While returns due to product dissatisfaction are part of the process, there are ways to reduce unnecessary exchanges and minimize the labor required. Follow these tips to streamline your product return operations.

 1. Prevent returns in the first place
Customers make mistakes and can buy the wrong product unintentionally. While this can’t be avoided 100% of the time, the chances of having it occur can be reduced.

Make sure your descriptions of products are detailed and accurate and will not lead to confusion. Include sizing charts and diagrams for any clothing or accessories that will vary, based on the customer’s choices. Post detailed photographs that display your product from more than one angle, and show at least one photo of your product being used. If there is enough information for the customer to easily see what the product is and choose the appropriate size or version, you can reduce returns or exchanges significantly.

Additionally, efforts should be made to ensure the right product is picked to be sent to the customer to ensure order accuracy. Scanning products before packaging and reducing human error through automation are good ways to decrease returns caused by incorrect shipments.

 2. Make returns as easy as possible 
Often companies will make customers jump through a variety of hoops before allowing a return or exchange. If you want to improve customer satisfaction and increase loyalty, don’t be one of those companies.

Make sure your return policy is easy to find and understand. For example, don’t hide it deep within your website’s terms and conditions. Display your return policy prominently during checkout so your customers know exactly what to expect. Include clear return instructions within the packaging, so if customers need to return an item, they can do so easily. Finally, don’t charge for returns. Customers who return items can become your most loyal customers, if they are treated properly.

 3. Automate the returns process 
Processing returns can slow down your productivity and increase labor costs. In fact, returns processing represents one of the most often overlooked opportunities for savings.

Utilize barcode scanning, dimensioners, and inline scales to assist in quickly identifying the returned product. Then, rely on conveyors and sortation systems to move and sort products to the appropriate destination. With the right automated system, you can significantly increase productivity while reducing your labor costs. These processes will make returns easier for both you and your customers, resulting in faster processing and a higher customer satisfaction rate.