Reverse logistics becoming crucial to customer satisfaction

Inventory Management

It’s not uncommon to see the disclaimer “all sales are final” hanging on a sign in a brick-and-mortar store or in the fine print of an online marketplace. However, that phrase is quickly becoming obsolete and reverse logistics is rising on the list of priorities – merchants have come to find out that customers will not shop with them if they do not have a return policy. In fact, many retailers are finding they need to take returns one step further, as if they do not have a flexible and prompt returns process, they run the risk of losing a business.

People value the ability to return products. This is especially the case when it comes to high-value products – you probably won’t see someone trying to get a refund on a $1 candy bar, but if it’s a $100 pair of shoes that don’t fit, then merchants can expect to see some push back from customers. One study conducted by Kellogg looked at articles of clothing in particular to discover the value of returns. The research found that women were willing to pay an extra $15 for the option to return an item, and they would also pay an extra $5 to return tops. That could be a significant boost in margins for savvy merchants.

The right eCommerce solutions can greatly help reverse logistics by enabling companies to attribute returns to customers while stocking and tracking returned inventory automatically.

The value of offering returns is real. However, that doesn’t make accepting returns any less challenging. Reverse logistics are incredibly difficult to get right, especially in an era of omni channel shopping where people buy from one channel and expect to be able to make exchanges via another. Yet, customers have high expectations, so retailers must step up on their end of the deal. This means not only creating a fair return policy, but synchronizing inventory across all online and offline channels.

Nailing the returns process

Retailers must start by crafting a fair return policy. Obviously, merchants can’t accept everything – if they did, they could leave themselves open to exchange fraud and create other issues for themselves. At the same time, “all sales are final” is no longer an acceptable approach, even for online merchants.

“The most successful traditional brick-and-mortar stores accept returns, so why should online merchants be any different? You should always stand behind your product, but if a customer is not happy and wants to make a return – let her,” urged Multichannel Merchant. 

Reverse Logistics

Accepting a return doesn’t stop at the front desk. This is where reverse logistics come into play – retailers should be able to move inventory back through the retail chain to either get a refund from manufacturers on defective goods or to restock inventory and make it available again for sale. The right eCommerce solutions can greatly help reverse logistics by enabling companies to attribute returns to customers while stocking and tracking returned inventory automatically.

Returns can be difficult to manage, but with an eCommerce solution that facilitates reverse logistics and a fair return policy, retailers can improve their eCommerce operations and bolster customer satisfaction.

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