Customers love a simple returns process. Go online, request a return, print the label, and drop the package off. That’s a far better experience than a manual returns process which requires the customer to answer questions via email, wait for a response, and stand in line to deal with the return shipment.

E–commerce returns automation isn’t just great for customers, it’s great for businesses too. 

In this post we explore why automated e–commerce returns are more important than ever and how to setup your own return automation in the simplest way possible (no coding required).

Why holiday season returns will be higher than ever in 2020

In the Deloitte 2020 holiday retail survey, it was revealed that over half of all holiday shoppers feel anxious doing their holiday shopping inside of a physical store location. 

So it’s no wonder that contactless shopping experiences are up. While in 2019, only 62% of consumers surveyed said they would have holiday items delivered, in 2020 that number went to 73%. In addition, the preference for curbside pickup doubled from 2019 to 2020. 

Online retailers are now the top holiday destination, as slow and leisurely browsing and shopping trips are down. In our 2020 Peak Season Report, we discovered that many markets have experienced 30% growth in e–commerce shopping activity versus last year. 

With a higher volume of online sales, higher returns are inevitable. Some of this is a direct correlation (more sales, more returns). While some of the increase will be due to shoppers being more likely to purchase clothes online this year.

Why it’s essential to automate return management

During a holiday season sure to be rife with higher numbers and potentially proportions of returns, it’s essential to provide an excellent customer experience while saving time and hassle for the operations team.

Here are the top reasons to automate how you manage returns:

Shortens the entire return process

When you automate returns, you shorten the entire returns cycle. There’s no need for a customer to wait days to be given permission to send their return. Instead, you can automate your allowable criteria

The faster that returnable products make it back to you, the faster you can sell them again

Reduces manual work for you with initiating a return

Automated returns processes also drastically reduces manual work. Many small e–commerce companies will communicate via email with their customers about the return options. 

While this may work for stores with a few hundred sales per month, it’s impossible to keep up with the work at higher volumes. 

Keeps pace with customer expectations

When customers shop at mass merchants’ online storefronts, they come to expect similar experiences at other e–commerce stores too. 

Customers want easy returns, meaning there is either a label included in the shipment or they have the ability to print one instantly online if the product is eligible for a return.

Better handling of return-related data

When returns processes are manual, there’s a greater margin of error. But with automated returns, data moves automatically from one system to another with fewer data entry errors.

Errors can include inventory being re-stocked but not added to your inventory system, or something that was later deemed unsellable might be included in your inventory counts. 

In addition, you can also reconcile inventory automatically to be sure the counts are correct. This is another way for returns data to be utilized to its fullest.

Offers automated updates to customers

When using a fully-featured automated returns solution like ShippyPro’s Easy Return, you also get the added benefit of keeping customers instantly up-to-date about the status of their return. 

It’s nerve-wracking to send a return shipment and hope it will be received in a timely manner. By automating the communication about the shipment via email and SMS, you can create a better returns experience for customers while fielding support inquiries at the same time.  

How to automate returns management with ShippyPro’s Easy Return

Fortunately, you don’t have to hire a software development team to create an automated returns system from scratch. With ShippyPro’s Easy Return, you can create an attractive and easy-to-use return portal. All you have to do is select your returns criteria and embed the HTML code into your website.

Then, you’ll have a portal where customers can initiate returns and be allowed to proceed if the product follows your rules. 

Because ShippyPro integrates with top carriers and inventory systems, you can manage returns end-to-end with one simple tool. 

Let’s take a look at some of upsides from the merchant perspective as well as the consumer perspective.

Benefits of Easy Return for online merchants:

  • Allows and rejects returns based on return window and other rules (such as item cost and customer location)
  • No coding required, as the software generates HTML code which can be pasted on the merchant’s website to offer the functionality and design of the return widget
  • Generates return shipment labels in coordination with your preferred carrier
  • Offers return analytics to understand which products get the highest returns
  • Connects with our customer communication features so you can proactively share when return shipments are received
  • Collects feedback on the reason for the return

Benefits of Easy Return for online shoppers:

  • Initiate the return process online without having to email or chat with customer support representative
  • Can create a printing label in under a minute
  • Receives proactive communication via email and SMS about the return shipment

Easy Return also offers an important way to protect your bottom line. You can use it to offer customers store credit and upsell coupons during the returns process. This means fewer losses in revenue.

You need a high quality returns process to keep customers happy. After all, 96% of consumers say they would shop with a retailer again after having a positive returns experience.

Sign up now to ShippyPro and get up to 500 free orders to test Easy Return and other advanced features for 30 days.