Customer expectations have shifted dramatically over the past 20 years. With the rise of e-commerce and the on-demand nature of almost everything, consumers of all ages are asking for more out of their retailers. One of the primary areas where we see shifts in consumer trends is with retail returns. People today increasingly want free (or extremely low-cost) shipping as well as the ability to return products for a refund or exchange. If you can offer free returns, that’s even better.
While there are certainly some advantages to these changes, there are also some potential financial costs. This is especially true for small businesses, which are more likely to suffer from the burden of paying for high shipping costs to your customers, and back if you decide to offer free returns. However, you can’t afford not to offer these things, because consumers have more choices than ever of where they can shop.
Here is how you can meet the changing expectations of your audience.
Set Up a Circular Supply Chain
If you have perfected your forward logistics and mostly ignored reverse logistics, now is the time to develop a circular supply chain. That means providing not only forward logistics—distribution to your customers—but also incorporating a wide variety of returns management functions in the process. This allows you to accept returns, issue refunds, repair products, or exchange them, and increases your customer satisfaction when you can do it quickly.
Be More Sustainable
Today’s generation of consumers are more focused on sustainability than ever. If your current reverse logistics model involves dumping a bunch of returned products in the trash, you’re missing out on a chance to be more eco-friendly, which can be an important differentiating factor from your competition, and to save money. When properly managed, you can identify returned items that can be recycled, sent back to your vendor, refurbished, or resold at a discount so you don’t have to simply throw everything away.
Don’t Sacrifice Profits
Some companies think that returns are a drag on profits, and in some cases there is no way to avoid a loss. However, if you are able to streamline your returns processes, you can find ways to save money instead of taking a complete loss on everything that is returned. For example, you can:
- Track items that you can return to your vendor or supplier
- Identify manufacturing defects and submit warranty claims of your own to manufacturers or distributors
- Speed up the time to get a returned product back on the shelf, allowing you to resell it and recoup most or all of the costs
- Improve the time to complete warranty repairs and claims, increasing customer satisfaction and boosting repeat sales, word-of-mouth advertising, and online reviews
Find out more about how you can get a complete reverse logistics management system in place today and see a demo of our ReverseLogix solutions.