Ecommerce 101: Understanding Reverse Logistics

Simply put, reverse logistics is how your business handles returns from customers and customer support. Even with the best quality control practices, there are going to be situations where customers need to return items. As a business, you want to make the process as quick and easy for them as possible in order to keep them satisfied. Additionally, you want your internal return procedures as streamlined as you can get them to save your staff some headaches.

Customer Service
It can be via telephone, email or an online contact form, but your ecommerce site needs some way for customers to reach out to you if there is a problem with their order. Do not make it difficult or inconvenient for customers to get help with problems because it will drastically reduce the chances of them ordering from your site again.

Shipping
The customer has to have a way of returning damaged or unwanted items to you. In most cases, ecommerce businesses simply provide return postage and have the customer mail the item back. However, some companies do arrange for pick-ups from the customer’s home or have drop-off locations. Whatever method you choose, once again make sure that it is convenient for the customer and do not charge them for return shipping.

Processing
Customers do not like to wait long for a replacement item, credit to their account, or whatever arrangements you have made to rectify the problem. Train your staff to process returns quickly and efficiently. Invest in database technology or some other system so that inventory and returns processed competently and the customer receives some sort of resolution within 5 – 7 business days. Additionally, if something has to be sent back to the manufacturer, process the customer’s end of the return first and then worry about returning the defective item.

Repair
If you do your own repairs in-house, it is important to be able to get the repairs done quickly so that you can get the merchandise back on the shelf or back in the customer’s hands. Many companies send out a replacement product first and then deal with the repair. However, for certain items such as computers or cell phones that contain personal customer information, this is not always possible.

Support
The sale does not end once the customer receives the order, especially when it comes to technology items. Have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your website and/or other ways the customer can receive after-sale support. This should be a separate channel from your customer service channel. The goal of your support channel should be to deal with post-purchase questions or problems.

Businesses that do not take care of their customers before and after a sale typically do not last very long. In order to stay competitive, you have to make customer support, including returns, a major priority. In the end, having a solid reverse logistics set-up will help ensure that customers stay loyal to your business.

About the Author: Raphael Yambo loves to work on his new site and is currently experimenting with new e commerce templates to make his store easier on the eye. Don’t rush into building an ecommerce site. Take your time and learn as much as possible before you launch.