Returns are a fact of life in ecommerce. Many online businesses use returns as a critical part of their customer engagement model to drive competitive advantage. With high return rates for both large and small sellers, mastering ecommerce returns is essential to keep customers and remain profitable.

Ecommerce Returns: Moving Information & Product

Immediately following the peak season, the premium on returns processing is critical since this is when many retailers make the majority of their profit. However, online retailers frequently struggle with the cost of returns and the operational processes behind them. Some of the key pain points include:  

  • Multiple ecommerce marketplaces & vendors: While essential to boost business, a broad range of online sales channels can result in a different returns process for each platform, multiple points of integration, and an inability to determine the true cost of returns. On the vendor side, different vendor agreements, return handling processes and potential restocking fees can further complicate returns management.
  • Multiple carrier platforms: Customers want the same options and speed for returns as they do for inbound shipments. They require the ability to quickly and easily generate labels and select the method of the return. Online vendors need to mirror consumer preferences, keep negotiated rates in place for returns and maintain visibility to multiple carriers.
  • Sorting & disposition management: Returns must be identified, assigned to a customer or account, given a disposition code and physically sorted for processing. The amount of labor needed to accomplish this can be enormous, lead to large stacks of unsorted returns piling up on the warehouse floor, and ultimately result in net losses.

How to Get Returns Right

To achieve a “perfect” return, the warehouse, accounting, transportation systems and ecommerce platforms must work in lock-step. Platform agnostic solutions that can better consolidate returns under a single system, regardless of the underlying ecommerce channel, are critical to getting returns right.

Also top of mind is the understanding that only articles available in inventory can generate revenue. Products placed back into circulation must be immediately updated by the warehouse management system, and details communicated to the online shop and all sales channels.

Because of the volume of returns, synchronizing carrier platforms with powerful Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems is critical for many businesses. Solutions such as QuickBooks or NetSuite, for example, may require a connector to effectively communicate with carrier systems. With the right extension in place, businesses can minimize the cost of ecommerce returns by leveraging negotiated rates, automating business processes and improving customer choice.

Descartes Ecommerce & Returns

Descartes helps customers streamline returns by connecting leading ERP solutions, supply chain platforms and carrier systems to ecommerce channels. Our intelligent warehouse management solutions, barcode-based returns processing, reason analysis and returns label creation can help online businesses simplify operations and adjust to seasonal returns fluctuations.

We offer a range of flexible options to match business requirements including a standalone platform to manage orders and returns from 75+ carts, marketplaces and systems from a single dashboard. Descartes’ solutions help businesses more rapidly move returned items back into stock, consolidate returns from multiple sales channels, deliver better customer service and boost sales.

Download the Interactive Guide

Our informational piece explores why online businesses are using returns as a critical part of customer engagement, and how market leaders are successfully overcoming the challenges of returns with technology.

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