Reverse Logistics: How to Deal with Freight Shipping Returns?

Reverse logistics is a big part of every supply chain process. If you are working on growing your business and expanding the customers’ network, it is crucial to know how to deal with freight shipping returns.

What is reverse logistics?

Reverse logistics is the process of returning ordered items to the distributor’s facility. Reverse shipments are standard for every productive supply chain, especially in terms of the fast development of the eCommerce industry. While the returns process became much easier over the last few years, more than 30% of customers still regularly send their orders back.

Although order returns may be stressful for business owners, looking into the reasons for returns might improve retail strategy. You can analyze returns data to see what items your customers often send back more than other positions. In addition, you can simplify the reverse logistics process to make it easier for your customers.

Why do shipping returns happen?

The reverse supply chain process results from various internal or external reasons. The most common of them are:

  • Transportation damage. The transportation process can sometimes involve shipment damage of different levels, and not a single consumer will want to keep a damaged item. Try to choose reliable carriers whose shipping equipment is good enough to move your products securely. Also, pay attention to protective packaging and fixating pallets.
  • Product non-compliance. If a customer receives an item that looks different from what has been displayed on your website, they won’t hesitate to send it back. It is vital to provide the actual visualization of the goods’ appearance before shipping and work with suppliers who prioritize the high quality of materials.
  • Late delivery. Surveys show that nearly 15% of customers are likely to stop buying from a retailer after a single inaccurate delivery. The customers’ expectations are high, so delivering goods on time is crucial.
  • Incorrect item characteristics. Often, many order mistakes occur because customers pick a wrong item or its variation on site. In this case, buyers are prone to exchange their orders for the correct ones. Yet, weak customer service can also lead to placing many mistaken orders. Ensure your customer support system is easy to reach and navigate when the buyer needs to make specifications for their purchase.

Types of freight shipping returns

In the active retail trade and eCommerce sales, freight shipping returns can intensify due to different reasons. In some cases, retailers can avert order returns by optimizing their supply chain. On the other hand, many returns do not depend on how you build your logistics strategy. Based on this difference, freight returns are classified as controllable or uncontrollable.

Uncontrollable freight returns

Sometimes you can’t prevent the reverse logistics process because of the ways customers make their purchases. Since a significant part of eCommerce platforms offers easy return options, many buyers order several units of the same product to keep and pay for the one that fits. Other times, people return items because of initially placing the incorrect order by mistaking clothes size, picking the wrong item color, etc. Uncontrollable returns are especially observable during holidays when a lot of items are purchased as gifts and may not satisfy a receiver.

Controllable freight returns

Controllable returns are straightly contingent on the way you manage your retail and shipping operations. You can influence the volume of returns by covering possible management gaps. First, you have to make sure the actual product appearance matches its appearance on marketplaces so that you exactly meet your customers’ expectations. It is also recommended to check on your inventory strategy never to ship the wrong items. Secondly, apply reliable packaging that is both high-quality and durable to protect the items from damage. Thirdly, try to organize your shipments in a way that reduces the risk of freight deformation. Finally, consider providing your customers with shipment tracking opportunities to keep them updated on the order location and delivery time.

How does the shipping returns process work?

According to your return management system, the reverse logistics process includes several consequent stages that you can later continue according. After completing the necessary steps of the freight return process, you can decide what to do with returned items further, for example, restore them or send them for recycling.

  1. Starting return procedure

Freight returning starts with the customer’s intention to ship the order back to the seller for one of the possible reasons. It is where your returns policies step into the game. Make sure the return instructions are clear and available on your online resources. Here you can offer consumers to fill out short feedback forms that will help you in future demand forecasting.

  1. Reverse shipping

When the consumer sends out the item, it’ll start traveling back to the facility from which it has been shipped originally – a shop, a storage space, or another retailer’s address. When the return order reaches its destination, you can redirect it to the recycle point or repairing service if needed.

  1. Processing the return

After the order has arrived, it is required to categorize its return status. Depending on the reason for return, you can apply the item for a resale, full or partial refund, and exchange.

How to prevent shipping returns

Freight shipping returns are typical in the retail industry, so getting some of your items shipped back isn’t a sign of ineffective order fulfillment or poor logistics organization. Still, it is essential to keep reverse shipping operations under control. You can do it with the help of several functional strategies.

Improving customer service

Good customer service plays a major role in reverse logistics. Your customers will be less likely to return the item if they get consulted on it. Knowing they can contact a support representative when needed, your buyers will feel safe and confident about placing an order. Likewise, you’ll ensure the customers get an exact product at the delivery, so there are no reasons to return it.

Observing customers demand

Demand forecasting is one of the best ways to increase sales and avoid numerous returns. By analyzing the popularity of your products, you can figure out what positions or their modifications should always be in stock. Besides, you’ll be able to detect products that get returned more frequently compared to others. Eventually, you may consider stopping shipping certain items or replacing them with better suggestions.

Reducing transportation time

Effective delivery is another factor contributing to the quality of customers’ experience. Many consumers make order returns because of the long waiting time, even if you’ve delivered the exact item in perfect condition. Try to optimize the shipment cycle duration and shorten it if possible by practicing time-efficient transportation modes or working with warehousing centers. Shipment tracking services can be quite beneficial, too. They will significantly improve your supply chain visibility and make customers less worried about shipping flow.

Preventing freight damage

There are a few practical ways to prevent your freight from possible damage. Investing in secure packaging is probably the most crucial thing to consider. Try to find a suitable packaging method so it can both secure your cargo and remain attractive to your target audience. Apart from that, modern buyers tend to trust retailers using sustainable packaging and eco-friendly materials. Choosing a suitable carrier is equally important for secure transportation. GoShip online service will help you pick a reliable carrier to ship your items with a minimum chance of damage.

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