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How Fulfillment Makes the Sale: Product Returns

This blog is part four of a four-part series about how order fulfillment impacts customer satisfaction. To download the complete guide “4 Ways Fulfillment Can Make (or Break) Your Next Sale”, click here.

If there is one thing that strikes fear into the heart of every ecommerce retailer, it’s hearing that a customer wants to “return” an order. Everyone has them, but nobody wants to deal with them. As an outsourced fulfillment provider, we tackle the returns process for all of our ecommerce clients – and it’s not always the most straightforward facet of fulfillment, but it’s necessary and important.

But returns don’t have to be painful – for you or your customers, and they can encourage future purchases and build lifelong loyalty if done correctly. Here are a few suggestions that we’ve seen work wonders:

  • Make everything easy. If making a return is even the slightest bit inconvenient, shoppers will hesitate to buy from you again (or, if your return policy sucks, buy from you in the first place). Look at ways to make the returns process easy: insert RMA (return merchandise authorization) forms in every package, include a card with direct phone number and email address for your customer care department, or include a return label and/or return packaging inside the order box.
  • Sync your fulfillment services with customer service. Your warehouse processes the physical return, but your customer care team will undoubtedly handle the trickiest side of the return: your customer. That’s why it is vital to have operations and customer service personnel working together to understand what each side does during the returns process and share customer feedback to make future returns smoother. A fantastic warehouse management system (WMS) accessible to both departments helps with this, so consider investing in upgraded technology if your current setup can’t offer it.
  • Don’t take it personally. People return products, and that’s just the nature of retail. Most of the time, returns have nothing to do with dissatisfaction with your brand or your company. It’s simply that the person didn’t like the product, it didn’t fit, or it didn’t work with their lifestyle the way they thought it would. So with that in mind, don’t ever get defensive about a simple return. Instead of seeing a returned order as a failure, please take it as an opportunity to learn more about that customer and personalize future offers to what they like.

Download our resource guide with even more tips – and keep checking back to learn other ways that fulfillment can impact customer satisfaction!

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