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Increase profits with a smart returns strategy

As the peak shipping season approaches, a smooth returns process becomes critical. Follow these four tips and you'll benefit from a successful strategy.

No matter what size your business is or what industry you're in, having a convenient returns process can help boost profits. See how UPS can help you streamline yours.

In business, what comes back to you is almost as important as what goes out. Whether your returning inventory is clothing, electronics, signed legal documents or one-of-a-kind medical samples, the way you manage it – your returns strategy – can mean the difference between profit and loss, and between winning or losing repeat customers.

In preparation for the peak shipping season, it's important to streamline your returns process in order to increase efficiency and business. Both improve the bottom line.

Customer loyalty, employee efficiency

In a Forrester Consulting study commissioned by UPS, ease of customer returns was key. Forrester found that a liberal returns policy can enhance the bottom line in the long run, as it dissuades fear of customer dissatisfaction and encourages consumers to "try again." Customers who are most likely to return items also tend to be the most active consumers, so your returns policy is likely to influence your best prospects. Plus, with Quantum View Manage®, a tool that provides visibility into the status of all of your outbound and inbound packages, you can see what returns are coming back to you before they arrive, and you can even staff up or down accordingly.

UPS offers three options for hassle-free returns. Here's how they can work for you.

1. Offer convenience with UPS Returns®Making it easy for customers to return packages gets inventory back into circulation faster, or documents and critical business materials back sooner. With UPS Returns, you can make labels available to customers several ways. For example, you can include a return label with outgoing shipments, or enable customers to initiate returns from your website. And you can even have UPS e-mail a return label to the customer. It's up to you.

2. Stay in control of critical inventory with UPS Returns® Plus When it's essential that an item be returned in a timely matter, you can send a UPS driver to get it, label in hand, with UPS Returns Plus. You can choose the level of service you need, with either one or three pickup attempts.

3. Put your best face forward with UPS Returns® Exchange. There's no better way to build loyalty than by replacing a returned item on the spot. And your customers can now enjoy that convenience without ever leaving their home or place of business. UPS Returns Exchange sends a UPS driver to deliver a replacement item and pick up the returned item on the same visit. The driver can even help repackage the return.

Your customers know the difference between adequate and excellent service – and often, your returns policy is among the most tangible representations of your commitment to customer service. With a solid strategy and the right service from UPS Returns, you can give them the excellence they're looking for and bring them back again.

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Reader Comments

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The Compass Guy December 13, 2011
Re. the question from the Adair Group, here's what our Returns expert had to offer. <p>Our experience is that a retailer’s return percentage rate is not notably affected by offering a convenient return policy. Instead, customers are more willing to purchase knowing the retailer has a convenient return policy. Often, the increased revenue and higher sales closure rate generated from a clear and convenient return policy more than offsets the costs associated with putting that policy in place. </p><p>Returns are going to occur, so it is important for retailers to have an efficient process is place to keep costs down and get items back on the shelf. Before raising prices, it would be a good idea to diagram your company’s returns process to see if there any areas to reduce cost.</p><p>Hope that helps. Best regards, the Compass guy.</p>
The Compass Guy December 13, 2011
Hi there. Great question. I'll ask our Returns expert and get back to you on this board. Best - The Compass guy.
jpadair77 December 12, 2011
Do you recommend increasing your sales price in order to make up for what you lose on returns. My company The Adair Group is in the blank t-shirt business and work on tight margins. We are known for low prices so returns do affect the bottom line. We want to keep customers happy though so of course we have a friendly return policy. Jordan-The Adair Group -