Rising to the challenge of international returns

Returns management is a headache for most supply chain directors, but don’t let it become migraine territory, says ReBOUND.

Returns management is a headache for most supply chain directors. Throw in the complexity of international shipments of returns – when your hard-won customers in Turin or Taipei find those skinny jeans don’t quite fit – and you’re in migraine territory.

Having succeeded in attracting these new international customers, it’s vital to keep them loyal, by offering a rewarding and reassuring customer experience, ideally along the entire customer journey. A complicated returns policy – that demands effort and expense from customers – probably won’t wash in the long-term. Thankfully, companies like ReBOUND are seizing on these challenges, and building solutions that tackle shortfalls and inefficiencies head on.

Set up just four years ago, ReBOUND has developed an integrated solution to ease the pain of international returns. And innovative retailers such as Asos, Gymshark, Mango and Wiggle have wasted little time getting on board.

Seeking an intelligent returns experience – globally

ReBOUND offers a multi-carrier returns platform that links with over 110 fully tracked local returns services across 220 countries and territories. This is an end-to-end managed service, with the retailer able to receive consolidated returns shipments, instead of single shipments. The system also provides the retailer with a reporting dashboard – allowing visibility of returns and a growing data set that will help retailers better understand returns behaviour over time, and across their different regions of operation.

Speaking at the eTail Fulfilment & Returns conference in London on 12th September, ReBOUND CEO and Co-founder, Graham Best shared his experience of the market, and gave insights into customer expectations, based on in-house research ReBOUND has carried out. Here are some key findings:

 

Best said the research confirms that international consumers respond very well to communication about what has happened to their returned item, and that their refund has been paid. So a system that can track items, and send out timely notifications for these shoppers is  a great way to retain customers, and cut down on queries to customer help centres.

“We’re finding that the retail disruptors are benefiting from ensuring they offer this level of service in the returns process,” said Best at the eTail Returns & Fulfilment conference. “Retailers brave enough to invest in new processes, go through the trial and error stage, and push through to offering what customers really want, are winning and keeping international customers, when it matters most.”

However, as the slide below shows there are plenty of retailers yet to grasp the nettle of international returns handling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What advice does Graham Best have for retailers in need of better returns policies and processes? “Get your heads together, build a team of dedicated stakeholders from across the organization. Then you can find out what’s going on, and build a strategy to reform your returns services.”  And if a global project of overhauling returns seems overwhelming? “Decide on a strategy country by country, and progress from there,” says Best.

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