Returns are part of any retail and many shoppers are purposefully overbuying with an intent of returning. Some even buy different sizes of the same item and will then return the item they don’t want. This really hurts not only a business’s profit, but the environment. Why? Because textiles cannot easily be recycled. In fact from a BBC report, “85% of all textiles thrown away in the US – roughly 13 million tonnes in 2017 – are either dumped into landfill or burned.” That is a lot! It is clear that we need to have eco-friendly solutions in all aspects of the buying experience. Actually, only 13% of textiles can be recycled. So as business owners work to provide eco-friendly products and reduce the amount of returns; it is time to make the return process is more eco-friendly.
As shoppers are looking for eco solutions it will be just as important that your returns also provide an eco solution. For eCommerce companies, 30% of purchased items are returned. If you look at return rates across all avenues you are closer to 70%. Shoppers want to be able to return their purchases if needed, and many actually look at a company’s return policy before deciding on making a purchase. Your return policy is just as important as any other part of your company. So, as more and more shopping happens through eCommerce stores, return options are going to be key. Shoppers want easy, free return policies from the companies that they shop from. These four solutions offer great eco-friendly solutions for returns that not only benefit the earth, but your customers and your company. We think you are going to love number four.
1. Omni-Channel Returns
Omni-channel returns means that your customers can make returns in more than one way through different channels. Probably the most popular way is going to a brick and mortar store and making their return. We see this with almost all of our big stores like Target, Kohl’s, and Old Navy. Buy online, return at the store. This is a very popular trend. If you are sitting there reading this and asking what are your options if a brick and mortar location is not available, there is actually a tool that you can use on your site to make omni-channel returns a reality. We will speak about what this tool is more later. The other way is shipping it back to the store you bought it from. Customers are looking for that free return shipping, and if you also provide an easy to print shipping label, even better!
2. Multiple Return Points
If your customers need to return their items by shipping it back, which isn’t the most eco-friendly option, another great way is to have your returns held for a period of time and then shipping multiple packages back together at the one time instead of each individual time a package comes in. This is a great option for those that need to return internationally by ship. If your company does this, you can even look into green shipping.
3. Return Window
The typical return window is anywhere from 15-30 days, and some even extend and offer a 90 day return window. For many stores, you may receive returns way after that product can be restocked. The unfortunate thing that happens when a product cannot be restocked is that it will end up in a landfill. As we know, this would not be eco-friendly, so to prevent this you can reduce the return window. Or making sure your return window falls within the timeframe when a product can be restocked. Allowing returns to happen within the window when the item can be restocked means that these items can be sold to another customer. This is great because it is not only benefiting the ecosystem, but is great for your profit as well. Being able to resell an item will bring you more profit, more profit than the item ending up in a landfill.
4. Tools for Greener Returns
There are some really great tools out there that you can use to reduce your environmental footprint. One of these companies is Returnly. This is a post-purchase solution provider. They offer an option called Green Returns to help retailers offer shoppers smart, eco-friendly policies. The system enables brands to manage logistics to reduce the cost and environmental footprint of processing returns. This is definitely a win-win. A tool you can use for omni-channel returns is Happy Returns. Happy Returns works in the Shopify store, amongst others, and has partnered with FedEx. They offer cardboard free returns; which also saves you money. They offer an “end-to-end solution” and “transforms every solution into an opportunity.” Both Returnly and Happy Returns are great solutions for your eCommerce store.
As you look to make the necessary changes to becoming eco-friendly, keep in mind that it will be important to make changes in as many aspects of your company as possible. The four options above are great ways to start thinking about the right solution for you when it comes to returns. If you still haven’t decided on going eco-friendly, then you will want to check out our previous perspective about why this is so important. Don’t be left behind, start making these changes now!