How to Choose the Returns Management Software in 2024

How to Choose the Returns Management Software in 2024
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Returns and exchanges are an inevitable part of running an eCommerce business. It is vital to handle returns efficiently to enhance customer satisfaction and reduce costs. To streamline this process,  it is essential to invest in reliable returns management software. This article aims to provide guidance on selecting the most suitable return management software for your eCommerce business.

What are eCommerce Returns?

Returns in eCommerce refers to the process of customers returning purchased products or items to an online retailer. This typically involves the customer initiating a return request through the online store’s platform, packaging and sending the unwanted item back to the seller, and receiving a refund or exchange depending on the store’s policy. While returns are a necessary component of eCommerce, their impact is multifaceted:

High return rates can negatively impact businesses by increasing costs associated with processing, shipping, and re-stocking returned items. Returns ticket also brings operational challenges for merchants because managing returns efficiently requires robust logistics and customer service infrastructure. Also, returned items often involve additional transportation and potential waste, contributing to environmental concerns.

Although returns might appear like a cost and hassle for businesses, they can also play a crucial role in building trust and driving sales. A smooth and efficient return process reflects positively on the brand, potentially leading to positive reviews and increasing overall sales.

Challenges in Returns Management

Returns are an unavoidable problem for online merchants no matter how perfect they are. However, without the help of an assistive tool, returns can be a headache for them.

The process of handling return requests can be quite complex and time-consuming for support teams. There are often a large number of requests to manage, requiring frequent back-and-forth communication with customers. Unfortunately, relying solely on manual processes can lead to errors and delays, such as having to manually create shipping labels or waiting for fulfillment centers to provide status updates.

In addition, even when a customer wants to exchange an item rather than return it, there can be delays due to stock availability. All of these factors can lead to increased frustration for customers and lost time and revenue for merchants. It's important to find ways to streamline these processes and reduce the potential for errors and delays, in order to provide the best possible customer experience and minimize negative impacts on the business.

The good news is, there are a variety of software solutions on the market today that can help businesses get out of trouble.

What is Returns Management Software?

Returns management software is a technical solution designed to automate and streamline the entire returns process for e-commerce businesses. It acts as a central hub, consolidating various aspects to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance customer satisfaction.

It covers the entire returns process, from the customer requesting a return, selecting a return method, stocking, tracking, to refunding, all with automated help for merchants.

By implementing all these, returns management software aims to transform returns, a potentially negative experience into a positive one, benefitting both the business and its customers.

Benefits of Returns Management Software

Not only does it enable retailers to have a return portal and dependable data analytics, but it also gives them the chance to tailor their returns policies to effectively oversee the entire returns process. All of these benefits can result in reduced costs and an improved customer experience.

A Self-Service Return Portal

Typically, the processing of a return request requires the efforts of the customer service team and ongoing communication with the customer. This includes understanding the reason of the return, determining whether it complies with the product's return policy, communicating the return shipping method, and so on.

To reduce the number of returns, customer service must also proactively propose exchange or credits options to the customer. This process is time-consuming and labour-intensive, and does not contribute to a more satisfying customer experience. However, with returns management software, it will automate all of the above processes with a self-service customer portal.

Customers can now complete the entire return request process on this page, eliminating the need for tedious and inefficient communication with the customer service team.

Customized Returns Policies & Rules

From a merchant's perspective, accelerating the product returns process also means optimizing the management of returned products. First, each product must be processed according to its corresponding return policy to determine the correct action to take in response to the consumer's request. Secondly, different shipping methods and drop-off locations options should be adopted for oversized items, or products that are bundled and partially returned.

Returns management software allows you to formulate sophisticated and conditional routing rules and set a variety of return reasons. Merchants can then view the status of all returns and perform various operations in one centrally managed space.

Reliable Reporting & Data Insights

To reduce the return rate as much as possible, you must understand the reasons for returns and user psychology. In addition to providing a unified management dashboard, returns management software collects returns data and presents you with various returns reports. It not only helps you improve return workflows and inventory planning, but also easily identifies the product issues and key gaps in your return process. These valuable data insights enable merchants to reconsider strategies to reduce returns and drive the bottom line for business.

The returns management software streamlines the returns process, resulting in lower costs for merchants and higher customer satisfaction.

Reduce Costs

Returns management software can reduce merchants’ costs through the following five aspects:

  • Reduce manpower investment in processing returns requirements;
  • Automation greatly reduces manual errors during returns processing and reduces losses;
  • Accelerate the product return process, allowing products to return to circulation faster and reduce consumption;
  • Reduce lost sales by converting returns into upsells or exchanges;
  • Save on returns processing and shipping costs by analyzing your data to determine the best way to manage returns.

Improve customer experience

By implementing returns management software that provides a superior returns experience, you can increase customer satisfaction and attract more repeat customers to your business. Customers prefer automated self-service over manual communication, not only because it is more efficient, but also because it gives them a sense of control. This is in contrast to traditional customer service methods such as phone calls, emails, or chats, which can be time-consuming and uncertain.

Moreover, you can encourage customers to exchange items instead of requesting refunds, or offer refunds in the form of store credit instead of cash. This can give customers a reason to return to your store and continue their relationship with your brand, which helps increase customer lifetime value.

Features of Returns Management Software

Returns management software offers a range of key features that make the returns process more effective. To ensure optimal performance, the software needs to include several basic features.

Returns Management Portal

Returns Management Portal

An effective returns management software must include an admin portal or a dashboard that streamlines the management of returns. This feature should allow you to coordinate store credit, refunds, or product exchanges, all in one place.

Returns Rules

Returns Rules

To simplify the complex return processes, the returns management software should allow setting different and conditional returns rules, including editing returns reason, RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization), and exchange rules.

Branded Returns Page

Branded Returns Page

A clear display space offered by the software is necessary to ensure your customers feel confident and loyal to your brand. This will help eliminate any confusion customers may have when initiating the return process. The software should be designed with an easy-to-use interface that's intuitive for any shopper who visits the portal. This way, customers will be able to navigate the website and make a return without requiring any guidance.

Returns Notifications

Customers love transparency. You should use the returns management software to give customers a sense of security with on-time return status updates. It’s a crucial way to reduce inquiries and manpower investment in customer support. Proactive updates of returns status usually include the following types:

  • Pending approval
  • Return Request Approved
  • Return Request Rejected
  • Return reminder
  • Items returned
  • Shipment Received
  • Request Resolved

Returns Analytics

Returns Analytics

Returns management software provides a variety of features, including returns analytics. This feature includes an analytics dashboard and various types of reports such as returns reasons, return resolutions, upsell revenue, return requests and rates. This data can be used to improve your product offerings and inventory planning. It's an indispensable feature if you want to gain actionable insights.

Additional Features

To provide more efficient services, various returns management software on the market have developed different additional or special features for merchants to choose from based on their own needs. Here are some competitive ones:

  • Fraud Detection
  • Parent/Child Org Control & RBAC (Role Based Access Control)
  • In-house item grading/at-home pickup
  • Additional labels for large & heavy items
  • Remove Solution Provider Branding/White-labelling

To configure an excellent returns management software for your business, you may consider following these steps:

Step 1: Check its integrations and compatibility to make sure it integrates with your current systems (major eCommerce platforms, carrier integration:, tech partners & solutions, returns API & API documentation).

Step 2: Select a solution that offers easy customization in advanced returns rules(returns reason, routing rules, country-specific rules, etc).

Step 3: Choose a software that provide a easy-to-operate editor to customize the look and feel of the merchant's brand images.

Step 4: Prioritize software that value security and privacy.

Step 5: Analyze the software's cost and pricing structure, and determine whether the features and benefits align with the pricing plans offered.

AfterShip Returns

AfterShip Returns is a software designed for managing returns in eCommerce. The software uses automation to help retailers optimize return costs, retain more revenue, and offer a better returns and exchange experience to their customers.

AfterShip Returns has an extensive carrier network of more than 39 carriers and supports auto-label generation without the need for additional connectors or apps. This wide carrier network also supports over 310,000 return drop-off locations worldwide.

Some of the best features provided by AfterShip include:

  • Seamlessly connecting to AfterShip Tracking simplifies the process of sending tracking information for exchanges and new orders.
  • Easy to export data and reports with a customizable analytics dashboard.
  • Robust inventory hold and charge process to protect merchants and retailers.
  • Limits return types to address fraud, and auto-detects potential fraud.
  • Supports Green Returns.

Loop Returns

As a returns management solution that is specifically designed for Shopify, Loop Returns offers a customer returns portal that integrates with existing systems via convenient APIs, supporting various return options. Their focus is to turn returns into exchanges, which results in a reduced rate of refunds and creates a great customer experience.

Loop Returns supports up to 9 carriers via integration with the required third-party shipping broker, EasyPost. It allows customers to leverage QR-code return drop-offs at any 5,000+ Happy Returns Return Bars or any FedEx or Walgreens location in the US.

Some of the best features provided by Loop Returns include:

  • Strong integration with Stripe and Shopify for strong exchange hold and charge process.
  • Fully white-labeled, and branded.
  • Offers in-house item grading or at-home pickup.

Happy Returns

Happy Returns is a leading provider of exceptional return solutions for the world's top eCommerce and omnichannel merchants. One of its standout features is the ability to accept returns through both mail and physical store locations. Their QR-code-based return Bars enable customers to enjoy boxless and label-less returns, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Additionally, they offer convenient services such as same-item exchanges, variant exchanges via Return Shopping, automatic label generation, returnless items, a branded returns page, and email notifications to keep customers informed throughout the process.

Some of the best features provided by Happy Returns include:

  • One-click exchanges and integrates with a variety of management solutions.
  • Cutting down on carbon footprint (item aggregation).
  • Easy to export data and reports with a customizable analytics dashboard.

Conclusion

Choosing the right returns management software is vital for optimizing your eCommerce business’s reverse logistics operations but it can be challenging. By considering the features and factors above, you can find a software solution that meets your specific needs.

If you want to learn more about returns management software, talk to our experts now!