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January 8th, 2024

The Complete Guide to Returns Management 2024

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On average 25% of products purchased online are returned to the retailer!

As an eCommerce business owner, this statistic can be scary. Returns often result in major headaches around profit margins, resources, staff, and the potential for excess stock. Not to mention how the process handling can mean the difference between whether that customer returns or not…

💡 Did you know: 60% of UK shoppers wouldn’t purchase from a retailer again if they have a negative returns experience.

We know that we cannot stop customers from returning their orders. Online shoppers especially have additional rights when it comes to returns and not to mention that more often than not, there are legitimate reasons for the return.

What is Returns Management?

In layman’s terms, returns management is simply the name given to the process of moving unwanted or unsatisfactory goods from the end customer back to the supplier. Sometimes referred to as reverse logistics, this post-purchase process is one of the most crucial steps to your overall purchase journey.

Customers rarely purchase from your eCommerce brand with the intention of sending that product back. But these things do happen, and having a strategy in place to enhance your post-purchase journey will encourage customers to keep coming back, spending more each time. Helping to improve retention rates and increase revenue.   

Create a healthy returns process, for a happy customer base.

The key to a healthy returns process is open and honest communication between both the client and the customer. With SCEND we keep you informed every step of the way and with our easy-to-use returns process you can keep up to date with your orders making the process from return to refund as straightforward as the journey from order to door.


Explore SCEND’s Returns Management solutions.


Returns Rates by Industry.

As we’ve already said on average the rate of returns for online shoppers sits at around 25%, however, this does differ from sector to sector. Do you sit above or below average for your field?

IndustryReturn Rate
Fashion & Apparel12.2%
Auto Parts19.4%
Beauty & Cosmetics4.3%
Health & Wellness1.6%
Homewear 11.4%
Sports & Leisure7.6%
Shoes & Footwear9.1%

As much as we cannot directly control the number of returns there are steps that you can take to reduce your returns rate!

How do you reduce returns rates?

1. Get the right product, to the right person, safely.

đź’ˇ Did you know: 25% of eCommerce returns are due to incorrect items being delivered: a further 20% are because their items are delivered broken or damaged.

So how do we fix this?

The first step in evaluating and reducing returns is to check your fulfilment process. As one of the key fundamentals, accuracy should be at the forefront of your mind. As a specialist fulfilment partner, we’re going divulge our worst-kept secrets to accuracy and this to check, check and check again.

We have a 3-step verification process which ensures that all products leaving our storage and warehousing facility are firstly correct and in pristine condition. On top of that, we use a cloud-based software system to track the orders and stock to remove the possibility of human error.

Using a 3PL partner for your fulfilment who already has these processes in place is the best way to help improve your delivery accuracy and help to reduce returns.

2. Transparency is key!

One of the most common reasons why customers send their items back is because the product they received didn’t quite look like the product image on the website. We all know that with good lighting, and professional photography products, places and even people can look a little different in person. That being said, as the retailer you should ensure that the products you’re showing online match that of what the customers are receiving. Being open, honest and clear about the product's quality, and purpose can help retailers reduce their returns rate by 22%!

In a post-covid society we have become more intuitive when it comes to online shopping, customers look more closely at the fine print – and they expect to receive a quality purchase which either lives up to, or exceeds their expectations. So… make sure you’re store portrays accurate and transparent information which will help customers make an educated purchase decision.

3. Get information on why!

The best place to start when trying to reduce your returns rate is to figure out why your items are being returned. Having the information allows you to identify the main reasons and address them internally.

One of the best ways to gather this information is to directly ask for it. This questionnaire can be included on the parcel return slips or even through an online form which can be completed when the customer requests the return. Common reasons that you can include on the questionnaire include:

  • Product sizing, too big or too small
  • Product doesn’t match the image online
  • Product isn’t as expected
  • Ordered more than one size
  • Quality isn’t as expected
  • Product is faulty, broken or tarnished
  • Incorrect product received
  • Product no longer wanted/ needed
  • Other (please state)

At SCEND, we integrate our processes with your in-house systems to support your inventory management, which includes tracking all the data from the return. This means we can manage the return from your customers and let you know the reason codes for quality and research purposes. Looking to upgrade your returns process? Get in touch.

4. Ensure customers get refunded ASAP!

Not really one to reduce the amount of returns… but when you do have a return it is super important to get customers their refund ASAP.

As we’ve already said, a poor returns experience can be super detrimental to your retention rates, but on the flip side 90% of people said that if they had a positive returns experience that they would repurchase. So how can you supercharge your returns process?

That’s where point number five comes in…

5. Use an expert fulfilment process to handle your returns.

Again, we’re sorry, not exactly one that will help you reduce returns – but definitely, one that will save you time, money, energy and maybe even boost your revenue.  

Using an expert fulfilment company which specialises in returns can help you to manage, repurpose and resell your returns easily. With an online system which keeps you in the loop with prompt notifications and updates, you can ensure that the process is as sleek as possible from start to finish. Whether your customer needs a full refund for a damaged item or a product replacement for something which turned up damage we will handle the full process and log the journey for education and research purposes. Sound good? We think so!

Speak to a member of the team to get started with your returns management, fill out the form below!

Partner shoutout: Looking for more information on returns? Here at SCEND we work closely with tech partners Rebound who are up to speed on everything returns. Head over to their website for a full breakdown of anything and everything you would need to know about returns.

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Level-up your logistics with an expert 3PL partner! 

Are you ready to level-up your logistics? Our team of experts are on hand to discuss your questions and get your journey with SCEND started.

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