Returns, Refunds, and Exchanges with an Order Management System

By RafterOne

Every year, most ecommerce industries deal with the consequences of returns. Automotive retail has the highest number of returns in 1 out of 5 orders, and apparel has a return rate of 12%. While returns will always be an inevitable consideration for any ecommerce operation, they don’t always have to cause a major dent in the business. When you manage the processes of returns, refunds, and exchanges well with an Order Management System (OMS), you can find opportunities to elevate customer satisfaction.

We have addressed the importance of an Order Management System and how you can keep your customers happy and your business thriving through it. This blog addresses why handling the after-effects of a placed order is as important as acquiring it.

Why is Managing Returns and Exchanges well Important?

Return management is a crucial part of ecommerce strategy. It is a process where the customer realizes they no longer want the product and want to either return it and get a refund or place an exchange order. The reasons could be quality issues, sizing issues, or simply because they don’t like it. This happens all the time.

While you cannot control your customer’s whims, you can control how you handle them when they may be dissatisfied with a product. This encompasses all the steps from the experience your employees provide them to the ease of use on your platform to carry their request.

When you do provide a stellar customer experience, here’s what happens:

  • Although unhappy with the product, your customer will happily associate with your brand again.
  • You have greater potential for upselling and cross-selling during exchanges.
  • It builds customer equity, the sum of the customer’s lifetime value with your brand, when you limit the unsatisfactory experience to just one time.
  • You build brand value by increasing positive reviews.

So now you know why it is essential to handle all these processes well. Let’s talk about how you can achieve it.

1. Empower Customers with Hassle-Free Processes

You don’t want customers to return your products, but it’s a part of the retail and ecommerce world. Thus, you want to make this process smooth and easy for them to ensure you care about the customers’ experience. An Order Management System that does this well can help ease the process for you. Here are some ways you can improve the return experience for your customers:

  • Don’t make them jump through too many hoops to place the return request through your website.
  • Make sure the CTA for return or exchange is well defined and visible.
  • Explain the policies for returns clearly, so they know about it before even placing the order.
  • Implement a workflow that carries out returns and checks the eligibility of products easily.
  • Enable self-service options for returns; they shouldn’t have to wait on your customer representatives to fulfill this request.
  • Provide them with opportunities for pickup and location based on their convenience.
  • Layout the refund options, such as store credit or back to the original mode of payment, based on their preference.
  • Provide them with easy exchange choices, whether within the same product, a different size, or a different item entirely. Always provide them with location-based live updates of the return request whenever possible so they can prepare for availability during the pickup.

2. Prepare for Returns while you Plan Deliveries

It is critical to prepare your team and create processes for returns well before orders are placed. This means ensuring your ecommerce platform is integrated with the right Order Management System to handle features such as:

  • Identifying warehouse and shipping locations based on each customer to ensure the fasted option.
  • Preparing for high-demand seasons. Specific holidays see a surge in orders as well as returns and exchanges due to unwanted or ill-fitting gifts.
  • Proper inventory and stock planning.

3. Focus on Reverse Logistics  

Reverse logistics is the process of returning products to your warehouses when your customers send them back. It is crucial to imbibe strategies for it along with order fulfillment. Here is how an OMS can help:

  • Automated updates for driver management to route smartly for easy and swift pickup.
  • Quality control through gatekeeping inventory where assigned individuals evaluate products before restocking.
  • Cost saving smart routing options based on the customer’s location and warehouse proximity.

4. Manage Inventory Effectively   

In the same way that inventory management is crucial for order management, it is vital for exchanges and returns. You can support this process by:

  • Implementing an OMS with Automated Inventory Management. This gives customers real-time updates on products that are out-of-stock or low-in-stock and allows for fully informed exchange decisions.
  • Carrying out thorough quality control to minimize returns. According to The National Retail Federation, returns cost businesses $101 billion. This can be avoided by ensuring top-notch quality before the delivery goes out to the customer.
  • Educating your employees about quality checks and packing orders only after following a stringent process.

5. Reinforce the Customer’s Importance  

When a customer has a bad experience with a product and is disappointed, you want them to know you welcome their feedback to do better. Ask them for insights on why the product didn’t work for them and give the option to provide their thoughts on a customer service call or via email. This will help you build an ongoing relationship with the customer and increase their chances of returning for future purchases.

You may also consider offering a discount code for their next order to ensure they have an additional incentive to revisit to your brand.

Customer is King; Accept their Returns with Grace!  

Treat your customers with respect even when they don’t ultimately purchase from your brand. This treatment demonstrates the kind of brand you are. It helps reinforce positive brand values and build your reputation.

Implementing and managing a thoughtful return and exchange process may feel overwhelming and can be challenging to execute without some help. An Order Management System from Salesforce may be the right option to help you through this process. We can help you further understand just how much value an OMS can bring your ecommerce business and how easy it is to acquire it.

Let’s set up some time to chat.