Returns are the bane of any business. Any time a customer returns a product, you lose money. Whether it’s because you have to refund an item you can’t return to the supplier, or you have to pay the restocking fee because your customer wants to return an item the supplier won’t accept back without the
Returns are the bane of any business. Any time a customer returns a product, you lose money. Whether it’s because you have to refund an item you can’t return to the supplier, or you have to pay the restocking fee because your customer wants to return an item the supplier won’t accept back without the fee, or you have to pay for the shipping, or even because you or one of your employees has to take the time to handle the return.
Thus, you should have a three-pronged attack plan with regards to reducing, minimizing, and handling returns.
Know your supplier’s policy and mirror it on your own as much as possible.
Have a solid return policy that always favors the customer, but doesn’t end up costing you too much money.
Keep a few of your most popular items on hand, if you can, to make returns as quick and painless for the customer as possible.
First, it’s critical to know your supplier’s return policy and work that into your own policy. If you have multiple suppliers, be sure to mirror the strictest of all of them, because you don’t want to have to deal with angry customers who expected one thing and are then told the supplier they received their items from will not allow the return as they thought.
You want to favor the customer as much as possible in everything you do in order to keep them happy and loyal, but at the same time, you have to protect your own bottom like, too. This often means making hard choices.
For example, let’s say the customer received the wrong color of the shirt they ordered. They want to return it, but it’s a few days outside your supplier’s return window. What should you do?
You have three options:
Simply have the customer return the shirt directly to you, and eat the cost by ordering a new one and having it sent to the customer. This will probably make the customer happiest.
Tell the customer they are outside the return window and you cannot accept the return. This will save you money, but it may cost you that customer for life.
Communicate with the company, explain what happened, and ask if they will make an exception given the customer was sent the incorrect item. This is the best compromise if the supplier will work with you.
There are also a couple of other options that may or may not work for you. The first one is, as I mentioned earlier, to keep a few of your most popular items in stock just for returns. This is the ideal option, but you might not be able to afford to keep that many items in stock, because you’ll have to pay for that upfront.
The second option is to use a company that specializes in handling returns, such as Returnly.
Returnly will allow your customers to return their items online, including getting an RMA number, and will process the return for you so you don’t have to. They will charge whatever credit card you have on file for the return, and they will obey whatever return policy you have. It does cost a bit extra, but it will save you a lot of time and hassle.