It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for small businesses the holidays can also be one of the most stressful times of year. That stress is only going to be amplified this year as COVID-19 upends everything we know about holiday shopping seasons. Since many shoppers have indicated that they plan to spend more money online and less time in stores, you are very likely going to see a spike in returned merchandise. Here’s how to plan for it and ensure a smooth shopping process for your customers and a smooth returns process on your end.
Step 1: Create a clear and simple returns policy.
One of the most important things you can do to make shopping better for your clients is to have a clear, simple returns policy. In fact, many consumers indicate that a return policy is one of the first things they look for before shopping with a retailer online. You might not be able to offer completely free returns for 365 days like some major retailers, but you can definitely make it easy for people to understand the process (and the costs) for returning items. Then make sure your staff are trained on that same policy so they can assist customers with correct information when a return situation arises.
Step 2: Manage returns with RMAs.
RMAs (returned materials authorizations) are one of the easiest ways to track and verify your returns. Not only can they help you manage the returns process without losing track of an item during shipping or once it arrives at your warehouse, but these forms can also cut down on fraud by verifying purchases before issuing a return.
Step 3: Make it easy for customers to see what’s happening in the returns process.
Communication is essential throughout the returns process, whether you are planning to issue a refund, an exchange, or a warranty repair. Without the proper tools, you are probably counting on your team to manually update customers about the status of their return. This is an inefficient and unreliable way to communicate with customers. Fortunately there is an easier way. With reverse logistics software, you can track and manage all communications in the same place, and set up automated emails whenever a return is processed. That takes tasks off your team’s to-do list and keeps customers informed at every step.
Step 4: Have a plan for returned merchandise.
Getting an item back from a customer is not the end of the journey for that product. In fact, it’s just the beginning of the returns management journey, and you need to have a plan for what will happen to each item. For example, some items can be inspected and resold, and need to be moved back to the warehouse or stock shelves ASAP. Others might be damaged, but could be returned to the vendor, while some might need to be recycled or otherwise disposed of properly. All these things require careful management to ensure they get done in a timely manner and you don’t have old or damaged items clogging up your warehouse storage space.
Get a Reverse Logistics Software Solution
The best way to manage all these steps and ensure smoother holiday shopping season this year and for many years to come is with a reverse logistics software solution from ReverseLogix. Contact us today to schedule a demo.