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E-Commerce 101: Dealing With Product Returns

In the most wonderful time of the year, your business is also going to have some of the most difficult hurdles of the year. Anytime a business has a surplus of sales it should expect an uptick in returns, but how your company deals with those returns will impact whether you’ll have returning customers. This article will walk you through how to deal with holiday or year-round returns.

How E-Commerce Returns Work

Because e-commerce stores have no brick and mortar to return products to, products must be sent in a box that is either easily returnable or includes another box or method for customers to send your merchandise back easily.

Understand Your E-Commerce Return Rate

Though returns during the holiday period may spike, knowing your general return rate can help you alleviate part of that final-quarter problem. Understanding your return rate on a product-specific basis is key to understanding whether there is a problem with something in one of your stock-keeping units (SKUs) or whether there’s a learning curve that leads to returns. To calculate your return rate, divide the number of returns by the total sales.

E-Commerce Returns Best Practices

Though there are simple ways to make your returns as easy for customers as possible there are a few best practices to keep in mind when dealing with returns.

Make Your Return Policy Clear

Some items drastically lose value if they’re returned. If fragile items are returned, you run the risk of breakage during a second trip to your distribution center. Communicating your rules for returns clearly is the key to keeping customers happy and remaining profitable.

It’s easy to add return policies and instructions to your landing or check-out cart pages.

Ask for Feedback

Understanding why your customers are returning your products will help you improve your offerings and minimize future returns.

Easy-to-Print Return Labels

Having a portal that allows your customers to easily print return labels for their specific purchase is a simple feat when you partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) company, but if you don’t there are plenty of shipping integrations that should work with every e-commerce platform. If you go that route troubleshooting and problem-solving will be your responsibility —  not that of the development team that created the integration.

Offer different refund options

Keeping the cash that you’ve already made is key to running a healthy business. Sometimes customers will find something else they want from your offerings, so allowing users to get store credit or gift cards with an added discount is a great way to keep the money you’ve already made and retain a customer.

Partner with Print Bind Ship for Seamless Returns

Returns have many moving parts, so partnering with a 3PL like Print Bind Ship can help make your process seamless. Print Bind Ship helps you keep track of inventory and shipping costs and ensures any returns are delivered to you unharmed.

Print Bind Ship for Customer Returns and Inventory Management 

When dealing with inventory management, there is a litany of things to consider. Returns affect your return rate, inventory and result in you having to discount previously opened items. Using Print Bind Ship to handle order fulfillment and returns makes for the perfect 3PL solution. Print Bind Ship’s e-commerce solutions and its pick, pack and ship process can keep your returns simple.


How do you respond to a customer who wants to return a product?

When a customer wants to return something you should always lead with understanding and finding out why they are returning the product.

How do you account for customer returns?

If a product is moving back into inventory, make sure it’s accounted for in your inventory management system.

What are some of the best practices for e-commerce returns?

Some of the best practices for dealing with e-commerce returns are including a return label or capability on your website for customers to print one. Also include packaging that can be easily shipped back to you.