6 signs that it's time for your brand to automate returns.

Every online brand starts focused on one thing, growing sales. Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, a new problem arises. The need to automate returns.

automated returns

For growing brands, handling returns manually works fine — until it doesn’t. Gradually, you’ll find your team spending more and more time approving/managing returns, which leaves less time for all the other vital tasks needed to keep your business running smoothly. 

Some of the problems associated with a manual return process are easy to spot, but others are not as obvious. There is no exact formula for when its time to automate your return process, but you will start to feel the pains below. If you are feeling at least 2 of these 6 pain points, it's time to invest in a returns app.

At Loop we generally see brands start to feel these pains around 30 returns a month.

1. Returns are becoming a full-time job

Dealing with a single customer email might not seem like a big deal — but as your brand scales, those emails pile up. Each email or chat can require a lot of back and forth. Unlike an automated returns solution, email and chat threads are open-ended, so it’s easy for your team to get drawn into the same type of conversation over and over again. Soon, you’ll find members of your team are having to dedicate their entire workday to answering emails and processing returns. 

Get your teams time back by handing that process to a system can handle return approvals quickly and painlessly. This will free up your team to deal with inquiries that require a more creative or personal touch, or to go the extra mile to keep customers happy.

2. You only offer refunds, because exchanges are "difficult"

Many brands get so overwhelmed by incoming returns that they completely stop issuing exchanges, instead giving a full refund for every product that is sent back. That can speed things up for your team, but it’s a poor customer experience. More than half of the returns submitted on Shopify are because the customer just has the wrong size.

52% of returns are because the customer simply has the wrong size.

When you only offer refunds, a customer must first send a product back and then purchase the one they really want. During this process the customer may have the charge on their credit card twice while they wait for the first product to be refunded.

A returns app like Loop gives you the time savings you are looking for while also making exchanges easy for the customer. Customers can easily select new sizes and colors without needing to refund the initial purchase first.

3. You’re getting complaints about returns

You know it’s a bad sign when customers start sending messages asking about the status of their return. Most of these complaints stem from a lack of transparency. They want to know when a refund is coming, and most importantly figure out how to start the return process. If you are getting questions and complaints like these, it’s a clear sign your current process is broken.

Automating your returns makes it easy to direct customers to where they can return and makes tracking returns easy for your team. It beats trying to keep track of everything in an Excel spreadsheet or Google Doc.

4. You’re drowning in shipping labels

As return requests flood in, many brands try to ease the strain by including return labels with every shipment. These brands quickly discover that printing off a label for every single order they ship is a time consuming and complicated task. By trying to save your team time with these labels, you may inadvertently be driving your return rate up.

When a return label is staring the customer in the face right when they open the box, you are starting the interaction on the wrong foot. The customer is now already thinking about a return before even getting your product out of the box.

Going to a return portal creates just the right amount of friction to keep the experience top notch, and return rates down.

An automated platform offers the best of both worlds. Customers can print their own return labels by visiting your website, taking the burden off your team. Meanwhile, the process of going online creates just enough friction to keep customers from reflexively returning products.

5. You don’t know why products are being returned

When you’re using preprinted labels or struggling to keep up with customer emails, it’s easy to reach a point where you lose track of why your products are being returned.

Every return is an example of a customer ending up with the wrong product for them. It’s vital to understand their experiences in order to course-correct. If your product sizing is inaccurate or a color isn’t displaying well on your website, that’s an easy fix — but only if you know about the problem. 

Loop helps give our customers a voice, and lets us make improvements throughout our supply chain.

With a returns app you can easily collect return reasons to improve your business. With a tool like Loop you can easily ask for a reason, a situational follow up, and have a comment box for additional context. With the insight you gain you can start to fix problems you never even knew about. Charlie Carlisle of Love Your Melon was able to do just that, and had this this to say "Loop helps give our customers a voice, and lets us make improvements throughout our supply chain."

6. You are out of growth levers to pull

You have aggressive growth goals, but you are not able to get them from the channels that had been working in the past. You are in search of the sales channel that will bring you a new wave of growth. Your returns can actually become that channel!

With Loop you can allow customers who are returning to exchange for something completely new, they essentially can take the exchange value and shop your catalog. If the customer wants to get something more valuable than before we allow them to do that and collect the up-sell revenue within the return experience. Brands using this feature are seeing an up-sell of $1.95 per return.

Is it time to automate your return process?

A good rule of thumb is that if any two of these challenges sound familiar, then it’s probably time to consider automating your returns system. 

Handling returns shouldn’t be slowing your team down or holding you back. The best policies and process give your team their time back, increases CLV, and even creates a new revenue stream.

if you are feeling these pain points grab a time to see demo of Loop. We would love to help you automate returns.