Automated Returns Management: Improving Customer Experience in Online Retail

  • Jan 30, 2024
  • 5 Min Read

Post-pandemic, the pace at which eCommerce has made a mark on the global economy is commendable, but at a consistent rate, it is also being nudged by returns and exchanges

For every sale via eCommerce retail site, there is a formula rolled out for handling returns and exchanges, while ensuring benefit for both customers and the businesses. In fact, the increase in the number of returns led to the birth of ‘bracketing’. In eCommerce business vernacular, bracketing is a concept when a consumer buys more than one piece of a single item, with an aim to buy-try-return (unwanted items). Bracketing is especially common in cloth retailing as customers prefer trying, then picking the one that suits them. For customers, it might be an attractive option but for retailers, it turns out to be a costly affair if not managed or planned, before putting the product on sale at various vendor websites.

In the world of Amazon, eCommerce business should have a comprehensive automated supply chain management that is inclusive of return management for reaping profits rather than losses.

What is Return Management?

In retail supply chain, returns management encompasses all the processes required for effective returns and reverse logistics. It is inclusive of policies, terms and conditions for initiating a return of a product and fulfilling a customer’s request for return or exchange a product. Ideally the return policies for each SKU are different. For example, return policy for perishable goods cannot be the same as those which have lifetime guarantee, so policies are formulated keeping the product in consideration.

An ease of return or exchange ensure customer loyalty, as eCommerce has a heavy traffic of retailers and each edge for staying ahead in the competition. Return management works in close proximity with logistics, inventory management, and customer care as it involves organizing, picking and restocking of returned or exchanged inventory at the right warehouse or nearest stores.

Return Management is an elaborate process involving a number of critical steps:

• Organizing picking of order.
• Receiving of order at the warehouse.
• Inspecting the order for damage etc.
• Sorting the order.
• Delivering the returned and cross-checked order to the right distribution center which can be warehouse or stores running out of stock or third-party where the item is on display for sale or maybe back to the manufacturer if there is any defect.
• Initiating refund as per customer requests.

Reverse logistics is an integral part of supply chain management. When a customer experiences smooth exchange process and refund surety, chances of coming back to the same retailer or vendor increases.

How an Automated Returns Management can Improve Customer Experience?

By incorporating an effective returns management process, equipped with artificial intelligence, tracking and fulfilling of return requests get simplified and organized. When there is a real-time update on the return or exchanged goods, reshelving of products do not seem to be a challenge. Automated returns use artificial intelligence for initiating return or exchange requests, for giving refund options like returning the amount to the source account or issuing of store credits, the entire process is streamlined without any manual interference and has automated inventory management system for smooth fulfillment of return requests.

Automated return management process ensures a customer has information about the initiated return or exchanges. With availability of real-time information, they can track and check the status of returns. The automation of the entire system, brings down time and enhances customer return experiences, thus confirming customer satisfaction and their loyalty towards the business.

Enhanced Customer Experience Through Automated Returns Management

• Shorter Resolution Time for Return Requests: Customers do not have patience; they are enjoying a new shopping experience with a balanced combination of online and offline sales. In such a scenario, they do not want to wait and get frustrated. Automated system, immediately scrutinizes and sorts out demand requests as not all items can go for exchange or returns. Terms of exchange gets regular updates on return policies and empowers customers to make an informed decision regarding returns. Automation also enables refund or exchange as per customer demands and in the shortest possible time return or exchange requests are resolved.

• Real-time Updates on the Status of Returns or Exchanges: The automated system is equipped to send automatic updates through SMS or WhatsApp or emails about the status of the initiated return or exchange. This clarity removes all the confusion and fears from the mind of customers. They feel more connected and timely alerts eliminates the requirement of keeping a constant check on the progress of return or exchange.

• Convenience of Return: Studies suggest approximately 97% of customers do not purchase from eCommerce sites which do not offer returns or exchanges. A customer who would have purchased online would not like to visit a physical store for exchange or returns and would back out. Automated returns management works out several return options and a customer can choose as per their desire from going for complete refund or exchange or getting store credit to be used online or offline or some other customer friendly feature. This makes customers feel important and valued, this is enough to get them back.

• Personalized: Automated returns can show alerts and prompts based on the customer history, purchases, preferences, behavior, etc. The return options would not only give viable exchange choices for eliminating the chances of complete return and refund. This way both customer and the business would be benefited. Customer would also be happy to receive personalized choices and their time would not get wasted.

• Return Flexibility: With automated service, customers get flexibility with return, as in they can initiate self-return service. This would not require any need to connect with customer service, in couple of easy steps, customer can opt for self-return.

These were the features which would bring a smile on customers’ faces and improve their online retail experience. Besides these, automated returns also provide scope for streamlining inventory management. With the use of AI, retailers can intelligently stock the returned items for reusing or reselling or stocking at an outlet where there is a requirement. Automated service enhances the overall customer and retailer experience and increase profit margin rather than incurring losses due to returns.

Advatix Cloudsuite™ Automated Returns Management for Enhanced Customer Experience

Advatix Cloudsuite™ offers cloud-based solutions for eCommerce businesses. The solutions offered can get each aspect of business through a single window and enable real-time visibility on inventory management for order fulfillment till the last mile.

To know more how team Advatix can wheel returns management to profit making exercise…