If you’ve launched an ecommerce store on Shopify, you’ve likely had a chance to learn a lot about what it takes to run a growing business.

You’ve probably spent time researching all of the right products to sell to your target market, and spent hours on high-resolution photography to present the items in their best possible light. You may have spent time on SEO research to understand what people are searching for, and played around with your web copy and design to see what resonates best with your customers.

With Shopify, you’re able to make use of a versatile selection of app integrations that can help you with the operational side of running your store — including sourcing inventory, marketing, customer support, and 3PL logistics. Shopify’s app marketplace makes it easy for you to focus on your core strengths and outsource or automate the areas of the business that aren’t as profitable or easy for you to manage with an internal team.

One area you may not have considered outsourcing, though, is reverse logistics.

Returns are a big part of any ecommerce business today, with as many as 40% of all online product sales ending up in a return.

If you’re like many brands, you might opt to route return requests through your customer support team. A customer will fill out a support ticket on a form, or initiate a live chat or phone call, and the agent will help them determine whether the item is eligible for a return, and fill them in on next steps if so.

However, if you don’t take the opportunity to automate your returns process with the support of returns management software, you’re missing a big opportunity.

Let’s look at some of the ways that automated returns management software can help you optimize your returns process and increase customer satisfaction.

What is returns management software?

First, it’s important to understand what returns management software will handle for you.

You have a variety of options to choose from (including Loop, of course), and in general, an automated returns technology tool will include features such as:

  • A self-service returns portal
    Customers should be able to easily start a return from within your brand’s mobile app or a website page, with a clear CTA that enables them to decide between a return or exchange and independently work through the process for either choice.

  • A conditional logic workflow
    It’s important to confirm that the item is eligible for return before accepting it back. By using existing data from the customer’s purchase history and setting up a series of questions about the item (i.e., “is the item in new, unworn condition?”), you’ll be able to determine the right course of action for the customer’s request, whether that means accepting a return, refunding the customer’s money without requesting a return, accepting an exchange, or declining to offer a refund — all with no need for manual intervention.

  • Data insights from return reasons
    When a customer requests a return or exchange, finding out why can help you understand why a purchase didn’t work so that you can optimize your inventory — and it can also give you the insights to remedy the customer’s problem. Your returns management software can provide a drop-down or multiple choice list of options for return reasons, including sizing or style issues. Your software tool can then pull from your live inventory to offer relevant replacement items for an exchange.

  • Automatically provide return labels or QR codes for shipping labels
    Your software should provide the customer with return instructions for return-eligible items, including a printable return label or scannable QR code that the customer can take to their nearest drop-off location to send back their item.

  • Integrated order management
    Your returns management software should integrate with your warehouse inventory or your third-party fulfillment center to track returns against your inventory, so that you know what inventory is available for product exchanges and know when you can expect your returns back for restocking and resale.

Why use returns management software?

So now that you have a better idea of what returns management software can do for you, why should you consider using it instead of handling returns manually? Here are a few key reasons:

  • Deliver a better customer experience
    A strong customer experience through the entire ecommerce lifecycle is essential if you want customers to come back – and that includes the returns experience. In fact, 84% of customers said that a positive, hassle-free returns experience would make them more likely to buy from a retailer again in the future.

  • Automate manual labor and streamline operations
    By reducing the burden on customer support agents to respond to return and exchange requests, you’ll be able to scale your business without needing to hire additional agents, and enable your existing team to respond to high-priority requests that can’t be automated.

  • Optimize reverse logistics shipping and routing to save costs
    Your returns management system can automatically determine the best shipping carrier and routing based on the customer’s location and the item type with your built-in integrations, enabling you to save money on return shipping.

  • Build sustainability into your returns process
    About 6 billion pounds of returns typically end up in landfills each year. With a returns management tool, you can greatly reduce this number by using conditional logic to determine the environmental benefit of requesting a return, rather than issuing a refund and asking the customer to recycle the unwanted item.

  • Encourage revenue retention through exchanges
    Our returns management platform, Loop, help merchants retain up to 40% of revenue from returns by incentivizing exchanges. You can use Loop to offer bonus store credit to encourage customers to choose any item from your store as an exchange, helping you increase the longevity of the customer relationship.

Automating your returns process with a great returns management solution will make your customers, your team, and the environment happier. Ready to give it a try? Contact our team for a demo.