Make International Returns Easy & Profitable with Ezi Returns
Mark Burch from Ezi Returns has been in retail for over 18 years and so returns are nothing new to him, but he did find himself taking returns personally. Ezi Returns now operates a returns service for businesses ranging from one person operations to international groups in Europe and North America. Countries currently offered include UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, USA & Canada. Today on Tamebay, Mark talks about his own experiences and how he set up Ezi Returns to assist other online retailers:
All that hard work in getting the products set up with images, great description etc and the customer wants to return it! Or even worse something outside your control caused the problem and resulting return. Time to take a deep breath and face the truth, If you sell on line you are going to get returns. Try and change your mindset from this being a negative, to a positive experience for both you and your customer. By making small changes to the way we handled our returns we got better ratings and reviews from customers saying how great we were!
It felt good, staff were motivated, margins improved and the world of e commerce started feeling a bit nicer again.
Then we started selling overseas!
Cross Border Trade is one of the main areas of expansion potential to retailers these days, however selling overseas does come with its challenges. One of the main reasons some smaller and medium sized companies avoid or even stop selling internationally is the fear of international returns.
It’s true, there are some challenges such as language, culture & attitude to returns. They can vary from one country to another, but at the end of the day customers all over pretty much expect the same thing. If they don’t want your goods for some reason they want an exchange or refund.
If you are already selling overseas or are thinking of embarking on the international route, here is a suggested action plan to make sure your returns process is up to scratch and if done right returns can be turned into a positive experience for you and your customers.
1. Your Processes
Obvious yes, but is your pick, pack and check process as good as it can be. Aim for 0% picking errors. This could include improving your procedures, looking at labelling, warehousing issues, bar code scanning, staff training, etc. If you are experiencing any issues in these areas sort them first.
2. Make your returns policy & instructions easily found and clear for your customers to follow
It is reported that up to 67% of customers check out the return policy first before deciding on who to buy from. Read, re read it and get friends or family to check your returns policy and more importantly your returns instructions. Do they make sense? Think about how this information is presented in the following areas. Your website, packing slips or invoices or do you have a dedicated returns form?
There is an argument that making the returns process too easy will increase your returns rate. This may be true for certain products but you will know best. Returns for most sellers will almost always happen. As your sales grow, returns increase too. There are some key pieces of info to measure and after a while your returns percentage will decrease as you identify trends or problem products.
3. Streamline your returns process.
This could be anything as basic as how quickly you respond to return requests or how you deal with potential problem emails to resolve issues before they become a return.
Having a returns form somewhere on your invoice to record important returns info such as the return reason helps speed up the handling of the return once the item is received plus provides valuable data to you.
Deal with returns as though they are a new order. They are a priority. A customer getting a positive experience is much more likely to recommend you to others and shop with you again. They now trust you.
An important part of streamlining your return’s process is working out how to deal with the logistics of getting the unwanted items back
These are your options
1. Provide a pre paid label to your customers
Expensive and usually involves a contract with a courier or postal service in each country or a contract covering a range of countries. If you have the volumes to meet the minimum levels this can work well and if your items are all similar size, weight and value the average cost can be calculated and worked into your margins. However, for many sellers selling items of varying size, weight and value, this is a very wasteful area where your return costs per item could be very high and difficult to control.
2. Write them off and let the customer keep the item
Not an option for higher value goods and not good for your bottom line. Some customers may catch onto this too and abuse it in future.
3. Let the customer post the item back to you and wait for their postage refund (or not depending on the circumstances)
Not popular with customers at all especially in places such as Germany. Posting items back internationally by the customer can mean the returns could take twice as long or more compared to normal domestic posting. This increases customer anxiety and the likelihood of a poor rating or review. You also have no control over what service they may use and therefore little or no control over return postage cost.
4. Engage the services of a returns solution provider
This type of service is invaluable when selling abroad. It can literally halve the cost of returns compared to some of the options above
For example at Ezi Returns we provide a local returns address in each country. Customers are far happier returning items within their own country for peace of mind and speed of resolution. This is also a condition for example in Amazons’ International Returns Policy that all sellers should be providing a local returns address or pay for the return.
When the items are received, notification of arrival and any vital information is sent to the seller the same day. The seller then processes the refund or exchange as normal themselves. The items are then stored until ready for consolidated cost effective shipment back to the seller.
Some companies offer other services such as ‘fulfillment – re selling service – pick pack and send’ where the returned goods are sent on to a new customer within that country turning your returned items back into cash far quicker, and saving massively on shipping costs.
In Summary, do not let the fear of international returns thwart your business growth.
Consider using a returns solution provider such as Ezi Returns to help improve your process, your customer experience and your profits.