As with most things in life, handling returns works better with a little insight. Insight into what’s working, what’s just okay, and what needs to be changed can truly be the difference between a brand in the red and a brand in the black. Returns are one of the most confusing parts of e-commerce logistics and often sit as a failure or negative checkpoint on a brand’s overall strategy. For brands and manufacturers selling products via online marketplaces such as Amazon, these returns can also become an extremely expensive part of a business plan if not managed, tracked, and reviewed correctly.
In order to help brands create fully optimized and streamlined return processes, we’ve highlighted some critical data points to track when it comes to returns on Amazon.
While this should be a no-brainer, it’s amazing how quickly the ‘why’ behind returns falls to the wayside. When a customer returns something through Amazon, they have to give a reason for the return. Whether it’s that they found a cheaper price somewhere else or that the wrong item was sent, this reason for return can give sellers some serious insight on what’s going wrong during the logistics process.
Many times, listing details are to blame for customer returns. From error-filled sizing charts to incorrect color options to a lack of detailed product photographs, if a customer doesn’t know exactly what they’re purchasing, then they’re more likely to return the product. If, for example, a brand is seeing a large uptick in returns caused by damage during shipping, it’s probably time to rethink the packing, shipping, and logistics process all together. Optimizing returns doesn’t stop with understanding the root cause—it requires action and follow up to ensure the problems are resolved.
Another important factor to track when it comes to returns is how products are handled once they are returned to a warehouse. There are various options here, including a 30-day auto dispose (if no other actions are taken), product removal, liquidation, repurpose, and more. Brands should understand the most common actions taken post-return and associate these actions to other data points, such as why a product was returned in order to build a full picture of the returns process.
Tracking these follow-up activities is only the first step towards building an optimized returns process. Brands should also monitor the corresponding cost or return associated with each post-return action. While it may seem as though simply removing a product from the inventory is more cost effective than disposing of it all together, this might not always be the case. Understanding the costs associated with returns can help brands plan and manage returns more efficiently in the future.
This is another data point that many brands forget to track, but is one that can make a big difference in the long term. One way to truly understand why returns are occurring and what a brand can do to prevent them is to go straight to the source: the customer. While Amazon unfortunately limits seller communication with customers, brands can still reach out to customers directly after a return is confirmed. Whether through social media, online surveys, or even emails sent directly to customers who have sent back products, this insight into customer behaviors around returns is invaluable to brands.
Having the ability to track, monitor, and understand the insights available around Amazon returns can help brands optimize the returns process and, ideally, decrease return rates overall. With SupplyKick, brands can rely on a trusted third party seller to manage all of these return details in a single location, without any manual effort or wasted time.
If you're interested in building an efficient returns process for your brand, consider the benefits of partnering with a seller like SupplyKick.