Published Feb 16, 2024

Returns made easy: How integration streamlines returns management operations

Laurie Smith

Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Content

Laurie Smith

3 key takeaways

  • Automate your returns process for benefits like improved customer experiences.
  • Integrate your ERP, ecommerce apps, and help desk for quicker returns.
  • Maximize returns with a clear policy and generous return window.

Managing returns can be a real headache–especially when manual processes slow things down. These time-consuming processes can quickly snowball causing poor visibility into inventory levels, cash flows, and returns status. This ultimately leads to increased operational costs and frustrated customers.

On the flip side, returns management provides an opportunity to build lasting relationships with your customers. Smooth returns processes can increase conversions, build customer loyalty, and help you stand out from your competitors. In fact, a recent study found that 92% of consumers would buy again from the same company if the return process was friction-free.

The key to achieving hassle free operations and a flawless customer experience is optimizing your returns management process with integration. So, how can you implement returns management integration on your team? Let’s unpack it together.

Benefits of returns management integration

By integrating ecommerce and returns apps, manual tasks are turned into automated business processes. This allows you to:

  • Provide customers full visibility into returns status
  • Increase customer loyalty with quicker refunds and exchanges
  • Stand out from the competition with easy returns
  • Support in-store returns giving your customers more flexibility
  • Eliminate hours of error prone manual data entry
  • Automatically update inventory to quickly resell returned items
  • Reduce time to resolution for support tickets related to returns
  • Avoid refunds for items that aren’t received

Integration best practices

Use your ERP as the central hub

To establish a solid foundation for a smooth returns process, start by implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. This will serve as the central hub for all your ecommerce operations, ensuring accuracy and efficiency across financials, inventory, storefront, and returns processing.

Offer self-service returns

Offering a self-service option can expedite returns for your customers. A few popular self-service returns apps that you could utilize include Loop Returns, Narvar and Happy Returns. This convenient approach makes returns shipping easy by allowing customers to create a return shipping label to print at home. Customers can also give a reason for return which can help you proactively address issues before they become widespread.

It’s important to ensure any self-service returns apps that you choose to leverage are integrated with your ERP and ecommerce applications. This allows you to automate processes, drive efficiency, and ensure full visibility. For example, when you integrate your self-service return application you can automate the returns process and refund notifications. By integrating with platforms like Adobe, BigCommerce, or Shopify, you can automate return authorization and refund status. Additionally, with integrated logistics, you can promptly alert your warehouse about incoming returns and receive alerts upon receipt.

Utilize customer support and help desk apps

Once you’ve integrated your ERP and your ecommerce apps, you can focus on building processes that make returns easier for customers. One way you can do this is by allowing customers to initiate returns within the help desk. With an ERP-to-help desk integration, you ensure this is a smooth process. For example, you can connect your ERP with Zendesk to efficiently handle a large number of return requests efficiently by creating RMAs (return merchandise authorization) within Zendesk and automatically initiating returns processes in your ERP.

Integrate your help desk with internal communications apps

Streamlining your customer service processes is crucial to ensuring your customers are getting the best experience. You can achieve this by integrating your communications apps to your help desk. For example, you could integrate Zendesk to Slack to automatically synchronize ticket status. This allows you to stay on top of customer concerns and ensure they are quickly resolved.

Other methods to optimize ecommerce returns

Have a clear returns policy

Creating a straightforward returns policy for your shoppers ensures they are informed of returns requirements and prevents confusion and frustration. Here are a few key aspects to include:

  • Types of items that can be refunded
  • Recourse your customer will receive (refund, exchange, replacement, or repair)
  • Who covers the cost of delivery or postage for returning the items
  • Shipping and delivery time
  • Who is responsible for the shipping costs, shipping, and delivery time requirements

Give customers a generous window of time to return

Although research shows that 80% of customers will return their items within 14 days, providing a generous window of return time shows your customers that you care about their satisfaction with the product. A larger window also reduces the perceived risk of making a purchase. Studies indicate that more lenient return policies correlate with increased purchases overall.

Encourage exchanges instead of cash returns

While you should certainly offer a refund, you should first try to satisfy the customer with a different product. This allows you to ensure you aren’t losing out on returns and keeps shoppers engaged with you. You can do this by offering shoppers an immediate exchange or an instant merchandise credit at the beginning of the return process. A more creative approach would be to offer the shopper 20% off their entire purchase if they redeem their credit within 12 hours. This makes the shopper feel like they are receiving something extra while you convert a return into a purchase. This also makes it easy for consumers to shop right away while they are on the website without waiting for refunds to hit their accounts.

The Definitive Guide to Returns Management

Ready to dive deeper? Check out The Definitive Guide to Returns Management ebook for an in-depth look on how to level up your returns management process with an integrated tech stack and process automation. Learn how to put the proper systems and automated processes in place to improve customer service, save time, and boost your profits.