1) Introduction to Ecommerce Product Returns in Gifting Sector
With us keeping in touch with a lot more people, it always feels like someone’s birthday, anniversary, or some other occasion where they should receive a gift. While that’s good news for those who like to receive gifts, it may not be such exciting news for ecommerce businesses. The E-commerce sector has significantly flourished on the concept of gifts since most companies added an option to gift wrap orders. However, this increases the complications of the ecommerce returns process. Ecommerce product returns in the gifting industry can be complicated as the product's buyer will not necessarily be involved in the return process.
If the returning of a gift was not complex enough, we now have types of gifts. The returns process is different for each of these gifts as they serve other purposes. Each one comes with its operational difficulties. Corporate gifting needs businesses to figure out an optimal way to ensure a uniform product in bulk. On the other hand, a more customizable and personalized experience is preferred for personal gifts. This difference in gifting methods is also reflected in the ecommerce returns process.
Any return, in-store or online, cannot be processed without proof of purchase. But, in the gifting domain, it can be a problem. Since the buyer and the product user are different people, it can often lead to confusion and awkwardness. If you deal in novelty items often used as gifts, it is best to install a different system to handle ecommerce product returns for gift items.
In this blog, we will discuss specifics about how you can optimize the ecommerce returns process for your generous gifting customers.
2) Challenges in Ecommerce Returns in the Gifting Sector
Before you can answer the question, it is crucial to understand the question itself. The challenges that arise while handling ecommerce returns in the gifting sector differ from those in other sectors. Some of the common issues you will face while handling returns for gifted items include:
2.1) Impact on the Supply Chain
The fulfillment supply chain is the backbone of every ecommerce business. Suppose gifts aren’t your target sales. Incorporating measures to enhance the gifting experience can impact your supply chain. Especially in Corporate gifting, the bulk nature of the shipments can directly affect your inventory levels. Processing returns according to the individual issues of the products in bulk shipment can be tedious. The lack of proper inventory management system can really impact the ecommerce returns process in such cases.
2.2) Tackling Ecommerce Returns Fraud
The gifting sector is a promising target for the fraudsters looking to commit product returns fraud in the eCommerce business. Since businesses are used to keeping their return policy lenient, they tend to exploit the loopholes for financial gains. You will need to find the right balance between leniency and protecting yourself.
2.3) Holiday Returns Season
Unlike other businesses, gifting is a seasonal business. It comes with its gifts of inventory lag, processing returns, and catering to customers. The majority of the revenue is earned during the Holiday Season. Therefore, it's the Holiday returns season for ecommerce businesses.
2.4) Proof of Purchase and Refunds
The gift receiver may always not have the proof of purchase for the gift they received. In such situations, it becomes tricky to process the return. Since the person returning is not your customer, you do not have their details to process a return or a refund. Companies will have to find new ways to reimburse or compensate the customer in such cases.
With the cut-throat competition in the ecommerce sector, you cannot afford to slack. These challenges will often arise together and impact your operational efficiency. Now that we are aware of the challenges we are likely to face let’s look at some of the best practices to tackle these issues.
3) Best Product Returns Practices for Gifting Platforms
Since you cannot eliminate the returns feature from your website, you must optimize it so that it has minimum impact on your bottom line. Here are some best ecommerce returns practices you can follow:
3.1) Multiple Modes of Returns
You can provide multiple return modes if you have an existing network of brick-and-mortar stores or physical locations. This allows you to control how the product moves through your supply chain. The in-store returns will allow you to verify the product and its condition before processing a return.
3.2) Store Credit/ Wallet Points
Since most customers that are processing aren’t the ones returning the items, you can provide a refund in the form of wallet balance or store credit instead of a refund. This allows you to reengage the new customer and will enable you to improve your customer retention rate.
3.3) Virtual Receipts
In the traditional method, it was easier to handle receipts. However, ecommerce allows us to reach customers across different geographical locations. But, this makes it difficult for the customers to have the receipts of the gift items they have received. With technology, you can implement virtual invoices and receipts to make your experience more user and environment-friendly.
3.4) Real-time Inventory Updates
A common challenge while processing ecommerce returns is inventory lag. Suppose you have an exceptionally high rate of return or face this issue frequently. In that case, it will be more feasible to invest in inventory management software that allows you to sync up your inventory in real-time. You can also choose an omnichannel fulfillment partner to assist you in improving your inventory management.
3.5) Returns Management Portal
If you are a smaller organization or an individual merchant, it may be more feasible to partner with a returns management portal like ClickPost. Using a returns management portal allows you to efficiently manage your returns and enhance the user experience on your platform.
4) What to include in an Ecommerce Returns policy for your gifting store?
A comprehensive and concise returns policy is essential to ensure a smooth returns experience for your customers. If you plan to include a returns feature for your platform, a returns policy is the first step in the right direction. Here are a few things you should include in your returns procedure if you plan to have a gifting-friendly returns feature on your website.
4.1) Requirements for Eligible Returns
Outlining conditions for an eligible return is essential, especially in the case of gifts. Your returns policy clearly states the requirements like receipts, situations, etc., required to make an eligible return on your website.
4.2) Condition of the gift
If you deal in consumables or gift hampers, you will have to outline the product's condition inside your hamper. You can also offer different policies for each scenario and provide different return experiences according to the capacity of your supply chain.
4.3) Refund Process
If you plan on refunding the gifts, you will have to outline the terms and conditions for the refund. You will have to digest the refund method you will be using and the value of the product that will be refunded. Along with that, you should also clearly mention different scenarios where your customers will not be eligible for a refund on their gift.
4.4) Return Window
Another important aspect of your returns experience you will need to define in your returns policy is the return window. You will also have to outline the window's start point, i.e., the date of purchase, the date the gift was received, etc.
With our modern lives getting busier as we grow, gifts have become an important medium to show our appreciation and love to our near and dear ones. The gifting season is an excellent way to showcase your vision of your products. You can even cater to the corporate section by creating hampers. This is a perfect way to put your business and product out there. But, for a seamless experience for your shoppers, a hassle-free returns feature is a must in the ecommerce sector.
You may find handling returns for gift items difficult as the ecommerce returns process becomes different. If you want to venture into the gifting space but do not want to deal with the hassle, you should stick to the basics. Formulate a concise, comprehensive returns policy visible on your product page and website. Take the help of technology to integrate your purchases and inventory levels for a smoother fulfillment operation and a better customer experience.
6) FAQs about Ecommerce Product Returns in Gifting Sector
6.1) What is the best way to process a refund for a gifted item?
If the person receiving the gift has returned the item, you can provide a refund through store credit or wallet points. This way, you can engage a new customer and create more conversion opportunities for the business without hampering the customer experience.
6.2) Is Corporate gifting a profitable venture?
Corporate gifting can be profitable if you have determined the operational requirements. Most corporate gifts need customized company branding and are often ordered in bulk. Therefore, you will need to create that space in your manufacturing and fulfillment cycle to ensure that you can meet these requirements without hampering your supply chain for your regular orders.