Whether a consumer wants to have a shipped product exchanged or returned, your business still needs to make a profit and warrant future business to ensure survival. Therefore, we are sharing five of the most important factors to manage return shipments without breaking the bank … and still retaining customers.

Reverse logistics is still a mystery to many South African retailers and OEMs. Globally, however, it is common knowledge that managing returns is a vital part of the supply chain and with the establishment of ecommerce and online shops gaining precedence in South Africa, business owners are on a mission to save costs while delivering quality goods and services.
The number one concern regarding product delivery is getting it there in top shape and ensuring a five-star review. Unfortunately, disappointment cannot always be avoided as products do get damaged and consumer expectations cannot always be met. When this does occur, it is not the end, but a whole other beginning of satisfying a new business need called return shipments.
Below are five important client-centric factors to manage return shipments without breaking the bank or ruining your reputation:

1 – Controlling everything but the un-controllables

Things happen, products get damaged, deliveries get mixed up and consumers make mistakes as well. It is important, however, to recognise why mistakes happen, how often, and how they can be avoided. Going back to basics will help; consider whether your website or catalogue is correctly displaying products? Are you over-selling and failing to meet consumers’ expectations when it comes to the actual product? Is your courier company up to par with industry standards?
While some things cannot be controlled, you need to control those that can to lessen the impact of the un-controllables.

2 – Be Frank and Upfront About Returns Policies

If consumers can only return a product within seven days of delivery, and only if, for example, the tags have not been removed, then you need to ensure that they were informed of these terms and had, in fact, agreed to them. Don’t place this information in the tiniest text at the bottom of your online order acceptance form as this will seem misleading and sloppy. Make things as easy as possible for your buyers. Ensure that you also have a returns policy and information page on your website and reiterate this information in your order confirmation emails.

3 – Have a clearly-defined return-management process in place

Most unsold and returned product disappears into the abyss of storerooms, never to be sold or repaired. By having clear processes in place and enforcing these, you will be able to keep tabs on all product, ensuring that it re-enters the distribution line and that you are making a profit, not losses. Returns management should enable higher gross margins and reduced operating costs, not to mention improved customer satisfaction and service quality.

4 – Use in-house repair services for damaged products

Getting damaged product back through the supply chain is only half the battle. The other half is ensuring that the product is repaired. In-house repair services provide more control over processes and costs and enables you to more accurately track, and adhere to, timelines.

5 – Use Technology to your Advantage

Reverse logistics can take many forms, but what retailers want is a client-centred and fuss-free system. This includes collecting, reporting, repairing and returning. Implementing a state-of-the-art returns management system has numerous benefits, such as reduced costs, less admin, liability protection, optimised resources and increased efficiency.