The Importance of Reverse Logistics to the Health and Beauty Market
Returns can happen for any reason: because something didn’t fit; because people received duplicates of something; because people didn’t like something – or because a product was damaged. There are several reasons why something could be returned – but whatever the reason, companies need to be set up to quickly and efficiently receive these returns and either ship out new goods or process a refund/store credit.
As the type of goods being bought and sold online increase in cost, so do consumers’ expectations of service. The beauty industry, for example, includes several “big-ticket,” expensive items – resulting in consumers having the highest expectations for their online shopping experiences. These experiences include returns.
While returns of goods in this industry are rarer than those in, say, the apparel or electronics industries, what that means is that every transaction must be excellent. Beauty consumers are often spending larger sums – and therefore make fewer returns as money isn’t spent on a whim. That said, returns still do happen.
As an online retailer of beauty goods, you need to do four things to make sure that consumers continue to associate your store with the experience they want to have online:
- Establish the Returns Process – this may seem like a no-brainer – and if it is, good; you’re a step ahead of the game. However, you’d be surprised how many online retailers simply do not have a mature returns process. Far too many companies simply see a returns claim made and immediately send out a new product to keep a customer happy. Then, when the returned goods make it back to their company, they’re thrown in a room “to be dealt with some other day.” As you can imagine, that day never comes.
- Make the Customer Experience Top-Notch – when dealing with health and beauty products, the customer expects an amazing experience – something unlike what they’d receive on a standard e-commerce website. Don’t forget that when dealing with customer service. You want staff that can personally handle any questions – and you want that staff to be knowledgeable in the items you’re selling. Reading off a script and trying to get you off the phone or chat in record time won’t cut it anymore.
- Improve the Returns Process – once you have a process in place – goods come in, are reviewed, action taken (refund, credit or new merchandise) – it comes time to make the process more efficient, more customer-friendly – and more profitable for your company.
How do you handle returns? Are you throwing returned goods into a room and locking the door – or do you have a team opening them and processing each return? You should. Each return should be immediately reviewed and either put back in circulation or designated for recycling. Letting returns sit untouched is like throwing money away.
On the efficiency side, look at where your returns center is located. Is it in or near your assembly and distribution centers? Are you able to get returned goods back into circulation easily?
- Learn from Your Returns – have you ever stopped and thought about what can be learned from those returned products? What can they tell you about what you’re selling? Do they show patterns of displeasure with a certain product, or are there several instances of damaged products? Analyzing what is returned, by who and why is very important – as it can tell you that a certain style isn’t desired by consumers after all; or that there is a quality issue with a certain product – or even that your own packaging or shipping methods need to be updated as too many products are coming back damaged. Without analysis, you’ll never be able to uncover and fix a problem.
Remember that the customer experience when returning goods is just as important as when buying them. This is your brand at stake – so make sure one of your 2017 resolutions is to ensure your returns process will help your business’ success, not hinder it.
Want to see what we here at ModusLink can do for your returns functions? Drop us a line at any time and we’d be happy to connect.
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