Many Happy Returns: Tips And Tricks For Retailers in 2018
While retailers might love to see customers flock to stores in search for the perfect gifts during the holiday season, the weeks and months that follow aren’t always as pleasant. As the new year rolls in, so do the inevitable product returns.
But retailers remember: it’s not all bad. In fact if handled correctly, returns may just boost your customer service and efficiency. Here are some tips for getting through the post-Christmas season:
Post christmas, approximately $70 billion worth of products is returned in the US alone. To prepare for the inevitable influx of january returns, tried and tested policies should be in place with staff – including hiring ‘seasonal’ temps that trained and up to speed. Undertaking effective returns’ trainings during these critical months is recommended for all members of the team, so that when masses of returns arrive customers receive quality treatment, improving the company’s public image.
Ditch manual processes
Despite the fact that $260 billion in merchandise was returned to retailers in the US last year, many smaller retailers continue to use manual return processes. Not only is this time consuming for employees, but manual processes are also prone to human error. Excel sheets and scribbled lists on paper can cause an organizational nightmare, which leads to returned products being ‘lost’ in the system, designated to sit for too long in storage rooms, and consequently ruining the chances of them being re-stocked or sold.
Returns can often feel like a burden to staff, but having an online system in place can ease this pain. Storing online and in-store inventories in the same database can allow employees to easily confirm whether an item can be returned, and therefore enable them to quickly and efficiently offer credit or cash back.
Using pertinent data or software apps such as Returns Management System can further ensure a seamless experience for managing returns. Having a system that can manage information with audits of supply chain, point of sale and other data, will not only make the process more simplified, but can authenticate returned goods and prevent against fraud. Accessing receipt data and serial numbers can better detect counterfeit, a $1 trillion industry worldwide.
Make returners into lifelong customers
They say customer service is the new marketing. So by offering easy and generous return policies, retailers have a higher chance of retaining customers. In fact according to Adobe’s marketing report, return customers are proven to spend as much as 7 times more than new customers. The endgame, therefore, should be to keep customers coming back again and again, even if this means a little lost revenue in returns once in awhile.
Take the extra effort to offer free return shipping, or include a ready return label along with the ordered item. Even merely extending the return policy window or adding a no questions asked policy can help perfectly demonstrate professional customer service skills. Business2community reports that 92% of unsatisfied customers will purchase again from a store if the return process was easy. Make returns as smooth as possible and customer loyalty will be follow suit.
Returns, therefore, should not be seen as a step back, but rather an opportunity to step forward and demonstrate strong company values, including faultless customer service skills. If retailers can better prepare employees and simplify return policies, then January returns should be a piece of cake.
About Guarav Saran
Gaurav Saran is the Founder and CEO at ReverseLogix, a tech company which aims to manage every aspect of your returns, reduce the loss from returns and reclaim the maximum value from the returned products. Their clients include Samsonite and Electrolux, among others.