Returns are an inevitable part of an Amazon seller’s daily life. While the concept of returns may make some brands and manufacturers jump immediately to ‘failure,’ this isn’t always the case. There are many reasons for returns, and smart sellers know exactly how to plan in advance to proactively control and inform a returns strategy.
The idea of having a ‘returns strategy’ also often raises some eyebrows in the e-commerce world because, putting it bluntly, isn’t the entire strategy of selling online to mitigate the risk of returns? While this is certainly true, managing returns is a critical part of the e-commerce world and the brands that plan ahead and form a proactive strategy will be the ones to succeed in the long run.
So how can brands develop an informed, successful returns strategy? The answer lies with data. Amazon, for all of its pitfalls, is an extremely robust, well-built online platform. This means that every single engagement on the back end can be tracked and monitored to build insights. From the number of items returned to repeating ‘reasons for return’ given by consumers to the average timeline of a return, all of these data points are important to brands. With this data in hand, brands can be more proactive around returns, reducing the risk of returns and delivering better consumer experiences at every step in the buying process.
Tracking critical return metrics such as why products are returned can help inform a well-defined returns strategy. Instead of just glancing at consumer complaints, brands can actually keep track of recurring issues or red flags. Then, brands can communicate directly to vendors or manufacturers on how to nip these problems in the bud at the source instead of reactively waiting for returns. If, for example, customers are returning a high number of t-shirts because of incorrect sizing, it’s time to go back and modify the product listing with a better sizing chart, more in-depth pictures, and a more detailed description.
Brands can also leverage data to better understand what to do with returned items once they are back in the warehouse. Routine quality checks—aided by pre-determined metrics—can help identify which products are slipping into unfulfillable and which can be sold in a ‘used’ condition. Brands can do these types of checks manually, or they can partner with a third party seller to automate and stay a step ahead of returns quality.
While data can help inform returns strategy on the front end, it can also help determine if certain products are too costly to keep on the shelf on the back end. Thanks to increasingly costly pack-and-ship fees passed on to sellers during the returns process, some products may actually be costing a brand more than they are worth. If a product has a high customer return rate and a high cost of return, this product might not be worth carrying anymore. Having access to the right data can help brands determine these benchmarks in advance, instead of waiting for hefty fees to stack up.
While data is key to building a robust returns strategy, it can be extremely difficult for brands to manually mine numbers and insights from the Amazon platform. This is why partners like SupplyKick are so important for brands of all sizes looking to make real strategic process. The SupplyKick team understands the ins-and-outs of the Amazon returns process, which allows the solution to deliver unparalleled insights and value-added services that help brands face returns with peace of mind—not stress.
The SupplyKick team tracks return rates, customer dispositions, and feedback, and then communicates these analytics directly back to vendors, eliminating any bottlenecks in the process. Product quality checks are handled quickly and efficiently, and product listings are modified immediately to better convey product details and help reduce the risk of returns. Working with a partner on Amazon like SupplyKick takes the stress out of building an efficient returns strategy.