[Guest Blog] Get a Return on Your Returns This Year

January 7, 2020

Like many e-commerce merchants, your team is probably celebrating the boom in sales during peak season. Hopefully, you have had a chance to recover from the chaos. But, ready or not, here comes the flood of returns. In this blog post, we will discuss a few tips and tricks to streamline your returns processes and strategies to change reviews from a costly hassle to a new stream of revenue.  

Are You Prepared?

How many peak season returns did you receive this year? How many returns did you receive last year from peak season orders? You can estimate our returns volume by multiplying your sales growth by the number of returns you had from last peak season’s orders. I know, not all of us have fancy systems to report how many returns we received last year, so you might need to estimate. Did you know that 20%-50% of e-commerce orders are returned?  Let’s do the math: that’s 7,000 returns if we take a mean of 35% and apply it to 20,000 purchases Black Friday through Cyber Monday. 

Are You Organized?

Are your customer service agents digging through printed packing slips to match up with packages in a cart full of returns? If so, how much time do they spend doing this? Are your exchange orders and refunds being processed in a timely manner? These are all questions that your customer service and fulfillment teams need to address. If it feels like your current manual process and/or systems are weighing you down, it may be time to change to a system that can accommodate automated return merchandise authorization (RMA) functionality, which generates invoices you can match returns against. Systems with RMA automation allow your receiving team and/or customer service agents to scan a barcode on the package to notify your system that the return has been received, triggering the return, replacement, or refund to occur.  

Are You Growing Wallet Share?

So, how do you turn returns, which typically cost you money, into additional revenue? It’s simple: upsells! Chances are, if your customer is submitting a return, you already have a chance to communicate with them through phone or email. Use this time to your advantage. A simple way to create upsell revenue is to suggest similar items that may entice the buyer. We know that many of the returns that arrive after peak season were gifts, and it may be extremely easy to convince that person to exchange the sweater their mom gave them for a stylish new wardrobe item that matches their taste. The best way to achieve victory with upsells is to arm your customer service representatives (CSR) with the knowledge they need to upsell effectively. Have your merchandising team train them on similar items and upgrades.  

How to Measure Success

Your CSRs may already have KPIs in place measured through net promoter scores (NPS), surveys, and reviews, but are you tracking how much they add to your top-line?  Upselling can be an effective strategy to produce new revenue. To optimize your upsell strategy, it is best to track performance. If you are not using an automated customer relationship management (CRM) system that tracks sales activity, simply set up a Google doc in which each employee can enter the original order value, the line item(s) being returned, the price of each line item, the exchange item(s) and the exchange item price(s). Now we can use these metrics to track the effectiveness of our CSRs and use to optimize the way in which our CSRs are trained.  

Everyone likes to feel appreciated, so once you have a solid process to track performance in place, it’s time to structure bonuses. If you incentivize your CSRs to upsell exchanges, you are reinforcing positive behavior to increase wallet share.  

Once you have implemented these steps effectively, you will look forward to returns so that you can have a chance to upsell your customers. If you would like to learn more about how to be more successful in your returns process, visit CloudConversion.com.

About Cloud Conversion 

Cloud Conversion is the top-performing e-commerce CRM and OMS for multichannel merchants. Cloud Conversion automates RMA, returns, exchanges, and refunds and integrates with ChannelAdvisor to make customer service and order management a breeze. Visit CloudConversion.com.to learn more.