return management

High levels of retail returns are not unavoidable. Better product returns management software can reduce costs and improve consumer loyalty at the same time.

What is return management?

Returns management (reverse logistics) is a process in retail, e-tail and wholesale businesses that involves interacting with consumers who want to return a product and then collecting, organizing, and restocking inventory that has been returned or exchanged.

Digital shopping has surged in popularity over the past two years, and returns have inevitably increased at a similar meteoric pace. Quick, seamless, and economic returns management is vital to success, and big and small retailers are laser-focused on improving returns process and the entire shopping experience. Benchmark your efforts against your competitors and discover how leading retailers invest in their returns management to improve the consumer experience and buyers journey.

10 Ways to Improve Your Returns Management Systems

Reverse fulfillment logistics can be a significant expense for your online business. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to proactively reduce your amount of ecommerce returns and the costs associated with them:

1. Understand Controllable and Uncontrollable Returns

Controllable returns can be reduced or eliminated through better-advanced logistics processes. This includes checking for issues like improper product descriptions, poor packaging resulting in damage, long delivery times, and general mismanagement.

Uncontrollable returns are ones that a seller can’t do anything about. For instance, when a shopper purchases a product but then has a change of heart through no seller’s fault.

Lessen Returns Volume. To decrease the sheer number of returns, retailers look to improve product descriptions and sizing information.

2. Understand the Cost of Returns

it’s essential to understand how much returns impact your business, covering the cost of reverse shipping, tracking, and how many work hours are spent managing returns from attending return calls to restocking products.

So, maintaining customer satisfaction with a good return policy is essential, and customers love when a business offers free returns.

3. Meet Customer Expectations

Product quality and fit not meeting pre-purchase expectations are the top reasons consumers opt to return a product. Assess the size chart and quality of items that are regularly being returned, do product testing, and check-in with your manufacturer to address any production issues that may be affecting quality.

4. Consumer Experience Above All

Most retailers point to the negative impact on the customer experience as a significant returns concern. Offering free e-commerce returns may cause a significant enough increase in overall sales and provide a positive consumer experience.

5. Have a Clear and Transparent Return Policy

A clear and transparent return policy is crucial for delivering a great customer experience. It should be easily accessible to your customers to avoid frustrations by managing customer return expectations regarding refunds, exchanges, return deadlines, etc.

6. Analyze Your Returns

Whenever an item is returned, analyze your products and your customers. Getting feedback from your customers and exploring the product help pinpoint the cause of the problem. Develop buyer personas, identify serial returners, and highlight your positive reviews to give them confidence in their purchase and reduce the likelihood of a return.

7. Process e-commerce Returns Quickly

Expedite your return process, and banking processes continue to get faster to align with more demanding consumer preferences. This will increase your customer satisfaction and loyalty.

8. Tech Investment

To improve the returns experience, retailers deploy real-time inventory visibility, go live with geolocation, and install dedicated product returns management software. This helps you to provide visibility into e-commerce returns through tracking.

9. Use a Fulfillment Center for Returns Management

Using product returns management software is the best option to handle the return procedure. Also, you may be best served by using a fulfillment center that will store, pack, and ship your products for you and deal with returns management.

10. Incentivize Low Return Levels

Few retailers reward and incentivize customers with low return rates, while others limit services and potentially blacklisting customers with high return rates. So, manage your return process wisely.

Creating a Seamless Returns Experience

Consumers stampeded to embrace online shopping during the pandemic, creating a host of new issues for retailers dealing with returned products. Most customers review a returns policy before making a purchasing decision, and more shoppers state they would like to buy more from a retailer if they offer free returns. As a result, retailers face ever-increasing returns and are challenged with organizing the material flows and customer processes. This leaves a negative impact on both profit and customer experience.

ChainDrive Returns Management is a returns optimization solution that optimizes the entire returns journey guiding a returned product from the customer’s hands to the final dispositioning step. The solution uses retail analytics, considering product status, dynamic costs, and customer profiles to show customers the best return solution and direct the retail staff to the optimum dispositioning option balancing the trade-off between customer experience and price.

Benefits of Using Product Returns Management Software:

Improved customer satisfaction — giving complete visibility and control over returns drives shopper loyalty and brand connection. Also enabling carbon-friendly return options and reducing the number of goods that end up in landfills.

Inventory Management- Real-time inventory status regardless of location and Centralized inventory management integrated with accounting.

Cost and Price Management— process automation and intelligent decisioning achieve greater operational efficiencies. Promoting exchanges instead of store credits or refunds and identifying the optimum dispositioning destination.

Real-time analytics — built-in retail analytics allows you to quickly understand the state and root causes of returns, helping to drive corrective action and optimize assortments, price points, and refund options.


As digital shopping continues to grow, returns inevitably have increased in lockstep. Providing a seamless returns experience has become a retail market necessity, but many retailers need to improve their operational and tech capabilities to ensure a smooth customer journey.

Savvy retailers are taking a hard look at every aspect of the returns experience and are implementing tactics and strategies designed to process returns and provide the opportunity for sales lift quickly.