Previously Easycom, now Inretrn

How to choose a
return management platform

Discover how to choose a Return Management System that streamlines your operations and enhances customer satisfaction, ensuring your e-commerce business thrives in a competitive marketplace.

E-commerce is booming, with its rapid growth matched only by the pace of innovation. As more people shop online, the volume of product returns has naturally increased. This rise presents a unique challenge for businesses like yours: how to handle returns in a way that keeps customers coming back for more.

Having a reliable Return Management System (RMS) is essential not just for keeping operations smooth but also for ensuring customer satisfaction. As the market expands, so does the need for systems that can efficiently process returns without any hassle. A good RMS does more than just accept returns; it turns a potential negative experience into a positive one, encouraging customers to trust and engage with your brand repeatedly.

This guide is here to help you understand the importance of integrating an effective RMS into your business strategy. This is what we’ll explore:

Why selecting the best returns platform matters for your business?

Selecting an effective returns management platform is crucial because it directly impacts several key aspects of your business:

  1. Growth: The right returns management platform can scale with your business, handling increasing volumes of returns without compromising efficiency or customer experience. This scalability is vital for supporting your business as it expands.
  1. Running costs: Effective returns management can significantly reduce costs associated with returns processing, including labor, customer support, shipping, and wasted inventory. A robust platform automates various aspects of the returns process, reducing the need for manual labor and minimizing errors.
  1. Customer engagement: A transparent and user friendly returns process is crucial for customer satisfaction. A good returns platform ensures that customers can easily return products, track their status, and receive timely refunds or exchanges, which enhances their overall shopping experience and fosters loyalty.
  1. Objectives: The right returns management platform enables you to achieve specific business goals related to customer service and inventory management. Whether it’s reducing the time to process returns, minimizing the rate of return, or improving the recovery value from returned goods, the platform should align with and support your business objectives.

While features such as UI and UX are important, the true value of a returns management platform lies in its ability to address deeper business needs. These include ideal product routing, operational efficiencies, detailed analytics on returns, and strategic insights into customer behavior and product performance. These capabilities are essential for assessing the impact of returns on your business and for making informed decisions that enhance profitability and sustainability.

Why use a returns management platform?

Using a returns management platform offers several significant benefits. These platforms can improve operational efficiency, enhance customer satisfaction, and contribute positively to a company’s bottom line as well as sustainability. Here are some key reasons why:

  • Enhanced customer satisfaction: A returns management platform simplifies the return process, providing customers with automated return labels, clear instructions, and convenient hand over points. Quick processing for refunds or exchanges improves customer experience and trust. A great returns experience also positively impacts your brand, one of your company’s most valuable assets
  • Increased efficiency and cost savings: Automation reduces the need for manual handling of returns, saving on labor costs and minimizing human error. The platforms optimize reverse logistics, cutting costs and processing times and lead times.
  • Enhanced Data Analytics: A returns management platform should offer advanced insights into return trends and customer behavior to refine strategies and reduce return rates. It must also integrate seamlessly with your CRM and e-commerce platforms to leverage data for targeted marketing. Ensure the platform includes open APIs for exporting data to external business intelligence systems, enhancing overall marketing efficacy.
  • Enhanced sustainability: Efficient management leads to reduced waste as returned products are restocked and resold swiftly. The optimized process lessens the environmental impact from shipping and handling.
  • Scalability and flexibility: As a business grows, the platform scales to handle increased return volumes and new markets efficiently. It adapts to different products, return reasons, and return policies, making it versatile for various retail models.
  • Competitive Advantage: Offering a seamless return experience builds brand loyalty and encourages repeat business, setting a company apart in competitive markets.
How to define your returns management objectives

To set the right objectives for your returns management strategy, it’s essential to identify what you want to achieve with the implementation of a returns management platform. Here’s some of the objectives to consider:

  • Going paperless: Consider the value of adopting a paperless return system to enhance organizational efficiency, contribute to sustainability goals, cut unnecessary costs and meet customer expectations for digital convenience.
  • Streamlining return workflows: Assess the need for a more efficient process that minimizes steps and simplifies the return workflow, enabling quicker turnover and better use of resources.
  • Improving inventory availability: Choose a solution that swiftly refurbishes returns for resale, enhancing inventory management and revenue potential.
  • Reducing lead times: Recognize the need for faster processing that could lead to quicker refunds, more responsive customer service, and expedited restocking of returned items.
  • Lowering return rates: Determine the importance of a platform that can help analyze and reduce the frequency of returns through better data insights and customer feedback mechanisms.
  • Cutting return costs: Evaluate how critical it is for your platform to minimize the direct and indirect costs associated with the return of goods, including shipping, handling, and administrative expenses (e.g. customer support, warehouse management).
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction: Reflect on how a new returns platform could contribute to a better customer experience and drive repeat business through hassle-free return policies.
  • Committing to sustainability: Opt for a platform that aligns with your sustainability efforts, reducing waste and optimizing logistics.
  • Gaining product and customer insights: Select a platform that delivers valuable insights into customer behavior and product performance to inform strategic decisions
  • Offering in-store/ship-to-store returns: Integrate in-store return processes to provide a comprehensive omnichannel experience for your customers.
  • Customizing return policies: Look for a platform that allows for easy customization of return policies for various markets and customer needs.
  • Adhering to legislation: Ensure the platform helps you stay compliant with current and future regulations regarding customer returns, product traceability and extended producer responsibility in the EU. 
  • Prioritizing security: Place emphasis on the security features needed in a returns platform to protect customer data and prevent fraud.
  • Global expansion readiness: Consider if the platform should support international returns and have the capacity to handle cross-border e-commerce complexities.
  • Tech stack compatibility: Ensure that any new platform can be integrated seamlessly with your existing technology stack, with minimal disruption to your operations

15 must-have features when choosing a return management platform

Every return management platform has their own set of unique features and functions. But for your business, you need to make sure your return management platform has these following features.

  1. Multichannel support
  2. Reconversion engine (Through exchanges, vouchers, etc.)
  3. Return hub for cross-border shipping
  4. Master of refunding
  5. Return merchandise authorization
  6. Swift customer support
  7. User friendly return portal interface
  8. Return transport administration
  9. Logistic workflow engine
  10. Product routing
  11. Inventory management  
  12. In-store/ship-to-store returns
  13. Supplier claims process
  14. Item validation
  15. Actionable return insights
1. Multichannel support

This feature ensures that an ecommerce business can handle returns from various selling platforms, including online stores, marketplaces, and physical retail outlets. It provides a consistent return experience for customers, regardless of where the purchase was made. Multichannel support helps in tracking and managing stock levels across all channels, reducing the likelihood of errors and discrepancies in inventory.

2. Reconversion engine

A reconversion engine is designed to reduce the financial impact of returns by prompting customers to opt for exchanges or store credit instead of outright refunds. It uses incentives such as vouchers or discounts on future purchases to encourage customers to remain engaged with the brand. This feature not only helps retain revenue but also fosters customer loyalty.

3. Return hub for cross-border shipping

Managing international returns involves navigating complex logistics, customs, and varied consumer laws. A return hub centralizes this process, making it more efficient and less costly by handling duties, taxes, and shipping in a streamlined manner. It’s a critical feature for businesses that have a global customer base and need to simplify the return process across different countries.

4. Master of refunding

Effective refund processing is essential for keeping customers happy. This system should smoothly handle various refund situations, supporting different payment methods and currencies, and follow local financial regulations. It’s designed to automate refunds, ensuring customers get their money back quickly and without hassle. Additionally, it smartly manages costs related to transport and product condition, and handles discounts, making every transaction as profitable as possible while discouraging unwanted consumer behavior.

5. Return merchandise authorization (RMA)

An RMA system is the backbone of return management, providing a structured approach to handling returns. It assigns a unique identifier to each return request, which helps in tracking and processing the item efficiently. By standardizing the return process, it minimizes errors and streamlines communication with customers.

6. Swift customer support

Quick and efficient customer support is essential during the return process to keep customers informed and satisfied. This feature should include tools for rapid communication, status updates, and issue resolution. It is crucial for maintaining a positive relationship with customers, even when they’re returning products.

7. User-friendly return portal interface

The return portal interface is where customers interact directly with the return process. It should be intuitive, easy to navigate, and accessible across devices. A good interface reduces customer frustration and helps to complete returns with minimal assistance, reducing the workload on customer service teams.

8. Return transport administration

Efficiently managing the transportation of returns is critical. This feature oversees the selection of carriers, generation of shipping labels, and real-time tracking of returned items. It should streamline the logistic operations, ensure cost-effectiveness, and provide transparency throughout the return shipping process.

9. Logistic workflow engine

Automating the return logistics workflow saves time and resources. This engine should optimize the routing of returns, handle quality checks, and manage the restocking or disposal of returned items. By automating these steps, businesses can significantly reduce the time and effort involved in handling returns.

10. Product routing

When evaluating a product routing feature, ensure the platform can intelligently direct returned items to the most appropriate destination based on specific attributes like color, seasonality, and product condition. The system should effectively manage detailed product information to determine the optimal return path for each item.

11. Inventory management

Effective return management platforms should seamlessly integrate returned items into existing inventory systems. It should accurately reflect stock levels in real-time, facilitating quick restocking of sellable returns and identifying trends in return reasons to inform inventory forecasting.

12. In-store/ship-to-store returns

For businesses with brick-and-mortar operations, in-store return capabilities offer customers a convenient option to return online purchases. This feature should enable quick processing of these returns, update inventory in real-time, and potentially convert return visits into additional sales opportunities.

13. Supplier claims process

This involves a system for managing returns to suppliers or manufacturers in cases of defective or damaged goods. The feature should automate the claims process, document communications, and track the status of supplier reimbursements, helping businesses recover costs efficiently.

14. Item validation

Proper validation ensures that returned items are authentic, in acceptable condition, and eligible for return under the company’s policy. The platform should facilitate a thorough inspection process, document item conditions, and prevent fraudulent returns, thereby safeguarding the business’s interests.

15. Actionable return insights

When evaluating a returns platform, ensure it provides advanced return data analytics on both a product and customer level, as well as detailed profitability insights. This feature should integrate seamlessly with your CRM and e-commerce platform, allowing you to dissect the reasons behind returns and assess their impact on your bottom line in a granular manner. By understanding these dynamics, you can tailor your strategies to enhance product offerings and improve overall customer satisfaction, directly influencing your profitability.

6 common mistakes to avoid when choosing a return management platform

When choosing a returns management platform, businesses should be wary of certain pitfalls. Here are five common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Overlooking integration capabilities: Not ensuring that the new platform can seamlessly integrate with your existing e-commerce, inventory, ERP, and CRM systems can lead to significant operational disruptions and data silos.
  1. Ignoring scalability: Opting for a solution that doesn’t scale with your business growth can result in performance issues down the line. It’s important to choose a platform that can handle increasing volumes of returns and growing customer base.
  1. Neglecting user experience: Failing to consider the ease of use of the returns platform for both customers and staff can negatively impact customer satisfaction and increase the workload on your team. A user-friendly interface is essential for efficient and satisfactory returns management.
  1. Underestimating the importance of analytics: Choosing a platform without robust analytics and reporting features can deprive you of valuable insights into return patterns, customer behavior, and product quality issues, which are crucial for making informed business decisions.
  1. Compromising on customer support: Not prioritizing the quality of customer support offered by the returns management platform provider can leave you stranded with unresolved issues and potential downtimes, which can be costly for your business
  1. Underestimating the importance of product routing. While many vendors and customers recognize the value of a digital return experience and shorter lead times through automation, fewer understand the critical role of product routing in the return process. Efficient routing ensures products are returned to the market more quickly and remain sellable, thus maximizing opportunities and reducing waste.