Returns from online can be like a disease, aggressively attacking profit margins, destroying conversion rates, and ultimately threatening your business. In 2020, consumers returned products worth $428 billion, accounting for slightly more than 10% of total retail sales. According to the National Retail Federation, the cost of returns is $101 billion. Returns have become the new normal and are essential to the customer experience. They don’t have to be a nuisance, though. How you handle print on demand eCommerce returns can help you differentiate your brand, gain a competitive advantage, and increase profitability.
WHY DO PEOPLE RETURN ITEMS?
Returns from eCommerce occur in all industries. A quarter of all consumers return between 5% and 15% of the items they purchase online. According to data, 20% of online-purchased products are returned, compared to only 9% purchased in a physical store. Customers will shop with more confidence and spend more if they know they can get their money back just as quickly as they can spend it. Surprisingly, the volume of returns corresponds to peak eCommerce sales periods. For example, the holiday season is the busiest year for online shopping.
METHODS FOR DEALING WITH PRINT ON DEMAND ECOMMERCE RETURNS
1. Make product information accurate and easily accessible.
It’s common practice to double-check that all public-facing content, including product descriptions, is correct and detailed. If the product does not arrive as expected, there is a good chance they will return it. To reduce returns and increase conversions, include the product weight and dimensions, materials used to make the product, and your eCommerce returns policy on every product page on your eCommerce site.
2. Items should be securely packed and shipped.
It’s easy to believe that once an item has left your warehouse, it’s no longer your responsibility. In reality, about 30% of items are returned because they were faulty or damaged when they arrived. However, you would not ship them in that condition. Something went wrong during transportation. Your delivery carrier plays a significant role in this. However, you can take steps to reduce the chances of an item being returned, such as inspecting every item before dispatching it to a customer or using the correct parcel size so items don’t jolt around in transportation.
3. Make your returns process long-lasting.
According to data, three-quarters of customers intend to shop more with retailers, making their return processes more sustainable. Another 71% would be willing to pay more in exchange for a long-term solution. Reducing the likelihood of returns helps reduce the carbon footprint of your eCommerce brand. The fewer packages you receive, the less fuel and resources you use. Regrettably, you will still have to deal with returns. Get rid of the prepackaged free-return labels in your parcels to make your eCommerce return policy more sustainable. Instead, request that customers go online and print their labels as needed.
4. Keep customers up to date on the status of their returns.
Brand perception and reputation are critical for eCommerce businesses. Find a shipping company that provides tracking information. Most provide tracking numbers so that customers can track the location of their returned parcel. When it arrives at your warehouse, send an automated message to the customer to confirm receipt. Give them an estimated arrival time and length of time they should expect to wait for a refund.
5. Return the item to your warehouse.
It is the most popular return method for eCommerce-only brands that do not have a physical store. When customers wish to return an item purchased online, they mail it to your warehouse or eCommerce fulfillment center. Following that, the merchandising department inspects the product and determines whether it is eligible for a refund. Return management apps can help retailers save time on manual returns. They will expedite the process, notify customers of the status of their return, and automatically update your inventory management system.
6. Outsource reverse logistics.
Returns management is a time-consuming process. However, it would help if you did not handle it in-house. The best print on demand providers handles the entire order fulfillment process, including returns. A reverse logistics provider stores a retailer’s inventory in an eCommerce fulfillment warehouse. When a customer returns an item previously shipped by the print on demand service provider, it is returned to their warehouse. Their team examines the item and issues a refund. The approved returned item is then placed back on the shelf and ready to be picked up for another order.
RETURNS FROM PRINT ON DEMAND ECOMMERCE ARE UNAVOIDABLE, BUT THEY ARE MANAGEABLE
With 10.6 percent of all online purchases eventually redirected back to the retailer’s warehouse, ecommerce returns aren’t something to dismiss. Do everything you can to avoid returns, from writing accurate product descriptions to carefully selecting and packing items. When this occurs, keep customers updated on the status of their returns. Returns may be the last step in a first-time customer’s journey with you. However, it is just as important as the first part. If handling reverse logistics in-house is becoming too time-consuming, consider outsourcing it. Fulfillplex is a top eCommerce fulfillment company that can assist you in reducing product returns and managing reserve logistics expertly. Feel free to contact us right away to learn more about how we can help you.