Introduction to Automation in E-commerce Returns
E-commerce returns take up a lot of room in the e-commerce supply chain. E-commerce brands have to deal with a high number of monthly returns, taking a toll on your resources and finances. However, automation of the entire system is not only a welcome but necessary means for dealing with eCommerce returns.
Before we delve into the question of automating your e-commerce business, it is important to understand the reasons behind a high return rate.
Reasons why customers return their orders
eCommerce stores are plagued by a much higher product return rate when compared to physical stores. There are several reasons customers may choose to place a return request, and it is crucial to find out why. Some common causes of ecommerce returns are enumerated below.
1) Quality Issues
Buyers tend to place more return requests when the quality of the product they receive is not up to the mark. Defective products, too, contribute to a higher RTO percentage. Many goods get damaged in the packaging process and are shipped back to the owner at the customer's behest.
2) Inaccurate product deliveries
When shipping a high volume of orders, sellers sometimes pack and ship the wrong product to the buyer. This not only lowers your brand value and increases customer grievance but also leads to a higher e-commerce return rate.
3) Delivery Delays
Customers are highly enticed by faster deliveries, and when their order gets delayed due to internal logistics issues, they tend to either cancel their orders or return them after delivery. Additionally, they place certain orders for specific occasions, which, when not delivered timely, are returned by the customer.
4) Placement of multiple orders
Since e-commerce purchases, especially in clothing and footwear industries, cannot be tried on or adequately judged in size, buyers often place multiple orders for the same item and then return the ill-fitted ones. While this may be highly convenient for the customers, it increases the return cost for your ecommerce business.
Impact of E-commerce Returns on Suppliers
For the customer, e-commerce returns are nothing but a click on their phones. However, each return request triggers a series of events for the seller. Not only do they have to bear the cost of the return, but they also have to ensure that the customer's return experience is satisfactory enough to guarantee their loyalty.
1) Reverse Logistics
Reverse logistics is the process of returning the product to the owner from the customer. The entire cost of this process, from pick up to the delivery of the item in the warehouse, is borne by the sellers, reducing their profit margin.
2) Damaged Goods
Products also risk being damaged in the pickup process, rendering them unfit for sale and increasing the losses for your business.
3) Loss of Time and Money
The entire reverse logistics operation, albeit essential, is an inefficient use of your company’s time and resources, time that could be used for increasing sales. Furthermore, the process depends on different stakeholders, such as the pickup person, the shipping partner, and so on, which complicates the work further.
4) Maintenance of Inventory
Merely shipping the product back to the owner is not enough; sellers also have to maintain an inventory of the products returned. This database collects different sets of information such as the type of product returned, the reason for return, and the return experience to lower e-commerce returns in the future.
The Returns Management Issue
Managing a massive volume of return requests manually is quite a difficult task. Even if we keep the excessive required labour aside, e-commerce returns management, when done manually, is prone to human errors. As your ecommerce business grows, the only viable option to streamline your e-commerce returns process is automation. An automated returns management system, such as ClickPost, enables you to provide your customers with more return options while reducing your risks. The advantages associated with automated e-commerce returns are:
1) Customer Controlled Returns
Automating your returns process allows customers to initiate the return request, putting them in charge of the operation. They can easily choose a return option that best suits their needs on your returns management portal in a hassle-free manner.
2) Efficient use of time and resources
Since automation eliminates the need for manual processing of requests, returns are filed at breakneck speed. The data for pickups is sent directly to the shipping partners, who can then dispatch their workers at a much faster pace, speeding up the entire process.
3) Streamlined supply chain
Most e-commerce stores use multiple systems and shipping carriers to resolve returns and other queries. Converging data from these systems makes the process more complex. Returns management software, such as streamline this process by pulling information from different sources and presenting them to you in one place.
4) Error-Free Information
Since automation is carried out with the help of Artificial Intelligence, the scope for making rookie mistakes decreases exponentially. The data that your returns management software pulls is trustworthy and accurate.
5) Promotes Organic Growth
A superior returns process increases your e-commerce brand value for your customers, increasing brand loyalty. They are also then likely to recommend your brand to others and expand your reach, helping you grow organically.
6) Improved Customer Service
Automated returns are quicker and provide customers with a better and more interactive experience with the help of computerized chats and emails. By addressing their issues within minutes of placing the request, you pave the way for happier customers.
How to Automate your Ecommerce Returns
There are various features that you can integrate into your returns process by choosing a returns management software for your business. These features can further be customized to suit your return policy.
1) Placing Return Requests Online
To automate your returns process, you must first provide your customers with an easy-to-use portal to place their requests based on your return policy. You can also give them the option to exchange their product or get a refund for their order.
2) Interactive AI chatbots
Damaged goods cannot be adequately assessed in online requests. They could very well turn out to be liabilities to the seller, who will have to accept the return order after confirmation. While returns management softwares cannot estimate the extent of damage, introducing interactive AI chatbots on your returns portal can help to pinpoint the nature of return requests and evaluate the damage. Furthermore, AI help desks provide faster responses to the customers and improve their buying experience by resolving queries and accepting return requests.
3) Automated Returns Inventory
Automated reverse logistics computerized the filing of return requests based on pre-set filters, improving the workflow and efficiency of the entire process. Finding a particular return request also becomes more accessible if a customer has a query regarding their product return.
4) Event-triggered Emails
One way to retain unhappy customers is by providing them with timely updates about their returns at each step. Automation of your ecommerce returns helps in sending emails triggered by specific events such as confirmation of the request, date of pickup, dispatch of the pickup partner, and refund initiation. These mails not only maintain transparency of your process but also keep your customers actively involved with your brand.
5) Using Returns Management Software
A Returns Management software, such as ClickPost Returns, integrates all the above features onto a single dashboard and can be merged with your returns management portal for a seamless experience.
Returns Management Softwares That You can Use
Managing return requests on a large scale cannot be carried out manually. Using Returns Management software ensures an efficient workflow with error-free data. Some of the popular Returns Management software you can use include the following.
One of Asia’s fastest-growing logistics platforms, ClickPost provides hassle-free returns management software tailored to suit your needs. From automating the return process by allowing customers to place requests online to managing cancellations, refunds, and pickups, ClickPost does it all. Returns management by ClickPost is carried out in 4 stages:
1.1)Placing online requests
1.2)Easier Courier Allocation for Reverse Logistics
1.3)Automated NPR Management System
1.4)Tracking of Return Requests
Apart from its returns management software, ClickPost offers a plethora of other services, such as carrier integration, delivery tracking, single API integration, etc., to make purchasing the best possible experience for your customers.
2) Return Logic
Return Logic is a returns management software that allows you to provide your operations team with visibility and the power to make adjustments in returns with important shipping status information. It also has a unique barcode scanner function for faster processing of requests and integrates multiple users and 3PL and ERP systems with ease.
3) Loop Returns
Having one of the most interactive interfaces, Loop Returns is an American software that aims to convert your e-commerce returns into exchange orders. Their goal is to maximize your profits by pushing your customers to buy more from your website instead of choosing refunds.
Returnly makes ecommerce returns faster, easier and profitable by using financial technology for D2C brands. It connects your website with your physical store to provide contactless return drop-offs right at your business location.
Optoro is an all-in-one returns platform that helps merchants manage and resell their returned products. Its returns software integrated multiple marketplaces onto a single dashboard, thus streamlining the returns process.
An automated return management system does not only make e-commerce returns easier to deal with for your business but also makes the grumpy experience of having to return an order enjoyable for your customers. While there are several returns management software available to you, you need to consider your brand's needs before choosing the software. A system that allows you to customize your returns based on your customer's requirements increases customer satisfaction and promotes brand growth.
1) What is a good RTO percentage for my Ecommerce business?
Generally, e-commerce return rates hang between 20-30%, owing to common problems such as quality issues, damaged goods, delivery delays, etc. Since these returns are predictable, they are also easier to deal with by adopting simple measures such as double-checking shipments and maintaining constant contact with the buyers during the buying process.
2) How do I improve returns management for my business?
To turn your e-commerce returns into a business opportunity, you need to analyze the reasons for returns, tweak your return policy and streamline the shipping process to lower this return rate and provide complete transparency to your customers to improve their experience.
3) How does Shopify automation work?
Shopify automation reduces manual labour in menial tasks that can be computerized by automating and streamlining your workflow. The app can be integrated with your returns management software to provide a system that works according to your return policy.