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Creating a better returns process

Postal Technology International speaks to Matthew Robertson, commercial director at NetDespatch, about the parcel returns process and ways in which it can be improved.

How should delivery providers be improving their returns solutions?
With the returns market growing and returns options becoming more varied, consumers are looking for more transparency and speed. For example, when returning an item, we found from recent research we conducted that 53% of respondents said they expect to be refunded within 24-48 hours, while 47% expect to be able to track their returns.

In order to achieve this, carriers must work together with their retailers to make sure all IT systems are seamlessly integrated to enable them to give full visibility of the parcel return. This will improve the efficiency of the returns solutions by offering a quicker and more reliable system, which gets the parcel back to the retailer promptly.

What are the main challenges associated with returns and is enough being done to overcome these?
The main challenge for the retailer is getting the goods back on the shelf as quickly as possible – or to a fulfillment center to redistribute accordingly. Therefore, a tracked returns system is not only beneficial for the consumer but also the retailer, so that they can organize their operations around how long it will take to get the parcel back.

In terms of the carrier, the main challenge they face is around efficiency and cost savings. For example, solutions such as click-and-collect points to return parcels are one way to manage this, as a delivery driver only has to pick up from one location compared with collecting parcels from multiple destinations. That said, our research found that 43% of the respondents still preferred to wait at home for a courier to collect rather than use other returns methods. This made us question how many people are aware of the numerous returns options available to them, and whether carriers and retailers need to be educating consumers more around the returns options out there.

Is there a growing demand for managed returns?
NetDespatch has a long history working in the parcel delivery market and recently we have seen increased interest from our customers around managed returns – whether that means allowing consumers to print return labels directly from retailer websites and make online requests for returns collections, or increasing the visibility of the progress of the return from collection to its arrival back at the retailer.

This demand has sparked initiatives such as the Tracked Returns option that Royal Mail delivers. As online shopping continues to grow, so will the importance of returns and making sure that these are dealt with in an optimum way. Ensuring that retailers, carriers and consumers are all in sync and consumer expectations are met will become increasingly important.

How should posts be capitalizing on the returns market?
Recent research figures estimated that shoppers collectively spent an average of £863.5m (US$1.23bn) a week online during January 2016. This clearly shows that the UK e-commerce market is booming, and as a result there are plenty of opportunities for carriers. Carriers can capitalize on the returns market by improving the relationship with retailers and consumers, by offering an improved and wider range of returns solutions, resulting in a seamless e-commerce delivery experience.

As carriers are an extension of the retailer’s brand, offering this type of delivery experience will invoke a positive relationship between the retailer, customer and carrier, and there will be more chance that consumers will keep coming back to that store to experience that service again.

What does NetDespatch offer for managing returns?
NetDespatch works with many delivery partners such as Collect+, Smiths News and Royal Mail (Tracked Returns delivery option) to provide flexible and convenient returns options for the retailer and customer.

The flexibility that the automated NetDespatch solution has allows the carrier to work with the retailer to offer the managed returns options to the consumer – be that including a returns label in the parcel, or being able to print that label online.

Alongside this, the automated nature of the NetDespatch integration saves retailers many man hours, instead of staff handwriting labels and inputting data multiple times. NetDespatch offers this solution to carriers and retailers and in turn, offers a seamless returns experience to the consumer.

To learn more about how posts can benefit from an optimized returns process read our Reverse Logistics article in the latest issue of Postal Technology International.

April 18, 2016


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