We know that customers return more after Christmas than any other time of year, in fact it’s even got its own national holiday: National Returns Day. Royal Mail has predicted that this one day can see 63% more returns compared to an average day in December (Royal Mail, Delivery Matters Report, 2021).
And this Peak, 41% of consumers plan to shop online more than before (Pitney Bowes, 2021). So, while you may be getting ready for what’s set to be the ‘biggest peak ever’, are you ready for the after effect of returns?
57% of retailers say returns have a negative impact on the day-to-day running of their business (Barclaycard, 2021) – which is something you’ll want to avoid after a busy peak season!
It’s no secret that returns have gone digital. Many of the UK’s biggest retailers now enable customers to submit returns online. But how can technology like this help you ease the burden of returns and reduce the impact on your bottom line?
1. Greater control of your returns policy
An online returns portal enables you to control returns from a central hub, so you can adapt your returns policy to different order types at the flick of a switch. For example, you may choose to offer specific carrier services for high value goods, or you may wish to charge for international returns but offer free returns for damaged goods, you may wish to adjust the refund time during busy periods – this can help you monitor returns in real time to maintain the customer experience, manage carrier spend and protect profitability.
2. More choice and flexibility for customers
No longer restricted by the number of returns labels you can squeeze on a delivery note, you can offer customers dozens, if not hundreds, of different returns options! And while this might sound overcomplicated, it actually becomes much simpler as you can manage these returns options from a central online management system. By providing greater choice and flexibility of returns to customers, this will create a positive post-purchase experience that will attract future sales well into the New Year.
3. Better visibility of inbound stock so you can manage resource
Traditionally, retailers have very little visibility of returns until they arrive at the warehouse. This can make it difficult to plan and manage the internal resource needed to process these returns, and retailers often end up playing ‘catch up’ – especially in January after a busy peak season.
A returns portal captures the customer’s intent to return at the earliest moment so you can see exactly what volume of returns to expect, product codes, reasons why and what condition they’re likely to be in. This will help you plan and monitor inventory before you receive the goods.
4. Faster re-stocking so you can sell more!
As returns data is captured online, this removes the need to process paper returns slips, which not only reduces paper waste and cost of printing but speeds up the booking in process when returns arrive back at your warehouse. This means you can get resaleable goods back into stock faster, ultimately helping you to sell more!
5. Less customer service queries
Returns technology can make it easier to track returns, so not only do you know what items are coming back to you but your customers can also track the progress of their return so they can have peace of mind that their return is on its way – and they will soon receive their refund or exchange. This means they will be far less likely to contact you to check you’ve received the return or ask when they can expect their refund. In fact, research by ZigZag Global has found that online returns can reduce customer queries by up to 40%!
Returns technology not only creates a more seamless experience for customers, but reduces the friction often associated with returns by automating many of the key processes, helping you to save time, reduce costs, improve the customer experience, sell more… the list goes on!
And returns technology isn’t reserved for big household name retailers. GFS Global Returns Pro is a fast, affordable way to give retailers the online returns experience they’ve come to expect.