‘Tis the Season for Joyful Returns

It’s estimated that 30% of products ordered online are returned. According to data gathered by Loop Returns, that number increased by 41% for online orders during the holidays in 2020. Brands and retailers understand the importance of a positive customer experience, especially when consumers are returning products.

What do customers want when it comes to returns?

  • Easy and seamless returns process
  • Free return shipping
  • Alternative or convenient drop-off locations
  • Quick refunds
  • Effective communication
  • Status updates throughout the process


Designing a joyful returns management process isn’t always easy. Many companies struggle with supply chain issues and don’t have the expertise or technology to ensure a smooth experience. Working with a 3PL expert, like Evans Distribution Systems, can help mitigate these issues. Here are a few tips to help you through the holidays.

Develop a Solid Returns Policy

A clear and concise returns policy alleviates confusion for both the sellers and buyers. Brands need to be transparent and upfront about the returns process and the timeline. The policy should be easily accessible on your e-commerce site and any third-party sites. It should also be included in the paperwork within the package and in confirmation emails.

Design an Internal System to Process Returns Quickly

The first step in processing returns is establishing where the products will be received. If it’s a 3PL partner’s warehouse—you need to designate them as the responsible party. From there, returns need to be inspected for damage and order completeness. Based on the results of the inspection, the product is either placed back into inventory or discarded.

Integrate Returns into Your Inventory Management System

Warehouses use a warehouse management system (WMS) that tracks inventory and includes information such as, product SKUs, dimensions, handling requirements, and more. These systems track products on-hand and the shipping and receiving activities. Returns need to be entered into this system to close the loop and ensure accurate and real-time inventory data.

This system also creates effective communication with customers. Once the product is received, scanning the bar code should initiate an auto-generated email notification to the customer. As inspections are completed, another email triggers the reimbursement notification for the returned product.

Identify Opportunities to Improve Your Returns Process

Knowledge is power. When you develop a consistent process it’s easy to spot challenges. Over time, you may notice that something in your process is negatively affecting the customer experience. Tracking how long it takes you to process a return, or inconsistencies in your inventory data or negative customer feedback teaches you where improvements are needed. Track the data and use it to refine your process.

The holidays are the perfect time to show your customers how much you appreciate them. A positive experience carries throughout the year and builds brand loyalty!

Do you need help designing a returns management process? Evans Distribution Systems is a full-service fulfillment provider that can help. Contact us at sales@evansdist.com or call 1-800-OK-EVANS to speak to an expert today.

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