How to handle customer returns

Package being returned to sender

If you run an e-commerce business, you understand the importance of having an easy returns process in place. But how do you handle returns in a way that keeps your customers coming back for more?

92% of consumers say that they’ll buy from a webshop again if the returns process is easy. It’s clear, then, that having a good returns process in place will help you grow your business. But how do you handle customer returns internally? How can your customer service department support the returns process? And which IT systems should you have in place to make returns management easy within your organisation? 

Tips for handling customer returns 

If you want your business to become the best at handling returned items, it helps to have systems in place that answer the 5 Ws (what, why, when, who and where) of customer returns. 

1. Know what's coming back 

Knowing what products are being returned even before they arrive empowers you to prepare any refunds or exchange items in advance, resulting in a speedy service and satisfied customers.  
With our clever returns management solution, we can gather data about which items are being returned as soon as a customer generates a shipping label via the online consumer portal that we can build especially for your business. To confirm which items are being returned, we can check the contents of return packages as they pass through our hubs on their way back to your shop or warehouse. 
How to handle returns - What

2. Know why it’s coming back 

Knowing the reasons why your customers want to return items is essential if you want to reduce returns in the future. If lots of items are being returned because they are damaged upon arrival, it might be time to rethink your product packaging. If items are being returned because they did not meet the customer’s expectations, you may want to improve the descriptions, product specifications and photography on your webshop. And if items are returned because the customer received the wrong product, then you might need to have a word with the picking and packing department.  
As part of our returns solution, we can create an online consumer portal that allows consumers to explain in detail why they chose to return an item. This information can lead to valuable insights that can help you make better business decisions. 
How to handle customer returns - Why

3. Know when it’s coming back 

It’s useful to know when items are expected to arrive back at your shop or warehouse so you can make sure that staff is on site to receive the returned items and process customer requests, such as refunds or repairs.  
A good consumer returns solution allows you and your customers to track parcels as they’re on their way back to you. 
How to handle customer returns - When 

4. Know who’s doing what 

Which customers are returning their items? Who was in charge of shipping the package? And which carrier is returning it? With the right IT integrations, you can gather all this information in one place.  
Within the Spring GDS portal, you can see exactly which carrier has shipped your package, which customers have returned an item and which carrier is responsible for shipping it back. By connecting with your current e-commerce platform or shipping platform, you can see who’s doing what at all times. 
How to handle customer returns - who (3)

5. Know where it’s coming from 

It might be useful to your business to know where customer returns are coming from. Is it more common to return items in some countries than others? Are there differences between provinces, regions or even cities? 
No matter where your customers are located, they’ll be able to return an item easily at one of our 100,000+ drop-off points that are scattered across Europe.  
How to handle customer returns - where (3) 

The importance of customer service 

Having good customer service in place is a key part of handling consumer returns professionally. Customer service professionals – or even automated systems such as chat bots or online return portals - should make your customers feel heard when it comes to their frustrations and supported in finding a suitable solution.  
Don’t make customer service an afterthought.  
Proactively thinking about the policies, systems and training you’ll need to put in place to handle returns well can save a lot of headaches – and unhappy customers – in the future. 

IT integrations: the key to a smooth service 

To really provide a smooth returns service to your customers, it’s essential that sales, shipments and return shipments are connected in one streamlined process. Well-set-up IT integrations can not only lead to better customer service, but also to faster returns and more cost-efficiency.  
Investing in a proper IT set-up can avoid problems down the line and lead to a more streamlined returns service. 

How to handle customer returns with Spring GDS 

Spring GDS is the easy e-commerce returns solution that helps you manage shipments and returns with one single integration.  
Within the Spring GDS portal, you can answer the 5 Ws of customer returns in the blink of an eye. 
Receiving returns from the UK? No problem. With customs clearance and VAT management included, you get on with running your business while our team of shipping experts handles the technicalities. 
What’s more, we reduce the number of journeys by dropping off returns at your warehouse when we pick up outgoing goods, resulting in cost-efficient operations with lower CO2 emissions. 
Get in touch to find out more. 
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