Why customer returns are important
Reverse logistics, customer returns, and vendor returns, are often the forgotten children of the eCommerce party. Planning a returns process is not nearly as fun as building out the initiatives to drive sales growth. but, when stuff starts piling up, physically and financially, its importance becomes well appreciated.
In my Amazon days, I learned two good tricks to help assess health of a fulfillment centre and its operations: look in the corners and look where c-returns are being stored. If it's messy, there's a problem. but today, reverse logistics are being examined for potential to create new value and new revenue, not just as cost reduction opportunities.
There are numerous cases of recent innovation. Kohl's is taking Amazon returns. Nordstrom will take anyone's returns. Target is making returns easier. Plus, there's a very good video here on how Amazon's c-returns process works.
While much of reverse logistics lies in the hands of the retailer, there are a few things brands should consider to improve profitability and improve the end-customer experience on retailers like Amazon:
- Are you looking at the data and critically assessing why customers are returning certain products? Which products are the worst offenders and why? Are trends consistent across retailers?
- Does your product detail page content communicate well what the customer is buying, and thereby reduce c-returns rate?
- Are all images online true to what is on the packaging?
- Are size and weight communicated on the PDP?
- Are title, bullet points, and description accurate?
- Is item quantity and package quantity clearly indicated?
- Are all Customer Questions answered?
- Have you mined customer reviews to identify content opportunities that can reduce returns?
- On or in the product, are you making help and assistance clearly available? Are you providing ways, where appropriate, to engage with end-customers to help them properly use the product or get the most out of it? Is this a scalable process?
- If you have branded stores, have you explored making them c-return locations for Amazon for your branded product? This could be an opportunity in disguise, a chance to delight and retain a customer instead of losing one.