Selling stuff online is easy, and getting it to customers isn’t exactly rocket science either. But what happens when a customer isn’t happy with what they’ve bought?

A balancing act

If want your customers to keep coming back to you, you need a returns procedure which is clear, simple and quick. And if you want to stay in business for any length of time you’ll also need to manage returns as cost effectively as possible. Forking out exorbitant courier fees every time Sanet from Potchefstroom decides that orange really isn’t her colour will have a very real impact on your bottom line…

A survey by US website Bizrate found that 89% of online shoppers cite ‘return policy’ as a major factor when choosing where to shop. Unsurprisingly clothing was the most frequently returned category of merchandise, while computer software and books completed the podium. Nearly 70% of customers sought shops with a returns policy which allowed them to take their time about deciding whether or not to return an item.

So. How do you keep your customers AND your accountant happy?

Have a very well thought-out returns policy

If your returns policy is too lax and accommodating customers will return a large percentage of what they buy. But if it’s too restrictive and draconian they won’t shop with you in the first place. It may sound like the archetypal Catch 22, but paying heed to the points below will greatly increase your chances of striking the right balance:

  • How are returns logged? Online? Telephonically?
  • Will customers have to pay for returns?
  • How long do customers have to make a return?
  • How long will it take for their account to be credited or for a replacement to be shipped?
  • Will there be any courier fees if a replacement is shipped?
friendly young african american delivery man delivering a package

Returning goods bought online should never be an ordeal.

Make the returns process as simple as possible

If Wouter has a negative returns experience with your online store, he will most likely shop elsewhere in the future…So you have to get it right, first time. This is easier said than done, however, as the online shopping experience makes it physically impossible to take a customer by the hand and walk them through the process. But with the right planning you can come pretty close…

The biggest and most successful e-Commerce retailers all have simple DIY returns systems in place. How they work varies from retailer to retailer, but they all employ some of the tools and techniques below.

  • Crystal-clear, fool-proof instructions. This is non-negotiable.
  • An online return form which makes use of dropdown menus to save customers’ time and to make things as clear as possible for the returns team.
  • Clothing retailers in particular make use of return labels which allow the receiving team to quickly match the returned items to the original purchase thereby speeding up the entire process. Customers are instructed in no uncertain terms not to remove these labels if they plan to return an item.
Revlogs is the only specialist reverse logistics company in South Africa.

Revlogs is SA’s only specialist reverse logistics company.

But who’s going to manage your returns?

  1. You could do it all in-house.
  2. You could manage the process in-house but employ ‘bakkie brigade’ couriers to handle the transport legs.
  3. You could outsource the entire process to a reverse logistics and returns management specialist like Revlogs. Revlogs knows all about collecting hodgepodge consignments from myriad destinations and getting them where they need to go safely, efficiently and cost-effectively.


You specialise in selling product. And we specialise in getting damaged or unwanted product back to source. Let’s each focus on what we do best. Deal?