Your business focuses intensely on optimizing the journey of every package from your warehouse or fulfillment center to your customer’s doorstep – but what about the other way round?

Many brands don’t prioritize the process known as “reverse logistics,” in which a product is transported from the customer back to the business or to a final destination (i.e. a recycling center or waste management facility). 

But if you’re in the ecommerce space, you should be: As many as 30% of all products purchased online are ultimately returned. And about a quarter of those returns ultimately end up in landfills even after being shipped back, resulting in unnecessary environmental and financial costs that could have been avoided with a better process. 

The good news is, by building a better reverse logistics flow, you’ll be able to not only improve your customers’ experience – you’ll be able to enhance your brand’s efficiency, reduce operating costs, and improve your sustainability, among other benefits. 

Let’s take a look at how to do that.

Why the status quo isn’t good enough

When it comes to reverse logistics, many brands handle each return request manually. 

They might route customers to their general customer support channels, where they’ll need to wait to receive further instructions. In many cases, getting a direct refund is the only option, so that’s what a customer will do. They’ll need to request a return shipping label, and navigate the process of repackaging and shipping the package – even if it’s not likely that your brand will even be able to resell the item. 

The entire process can be time-consuming and arduous for the customer, and it means that you may not see them again. In fact, 84% of customers say that they’re not likely to buy from a brand again after they’ve had a poor returns experience. 

It’s bad for your brand, too. Rather than handling complex inquiries, your customer support team is spending a big chunk of time managing run-of-the-mill return requests and inquiries. And it’s likely that you’re overinvesting in return shipping for items that your brand will simply send to the landfill rather than pull back into your inventory for resale. 

Ultimately, a manual returns process can lead to a lot of wasted time, energy, and expenses – and even more customer churn.

Optimizing your reverse logistics flow

By using an automated returns management solution like Loop, you’ll be able to streamline every part of your reverse logistics flow.

  • Reduced customer support requests
    By enabling customers to initiate return requests through a self-service platform, you can save your customer support agents’ time for the more complicated requests that genuinely need live support. Rather than increasing CX headcount as your brand grows, you’ll be able to handle the vast majority of return-related requests through self-service and automated chatbot responses. That will help you both save money on labor costs, and deliver a better customer experience. 

  • Better routing options
    Loop can help you automatically route your returns to balance cost-saving and speed, so that you can get your inventory back in the warehouse quickly and affordably. Don’t miss the window to resell your product – with more efficient routing, you’ll be able to recapture return revenue quickly.

  • Smarter return decisions
    In some cases, it doesn’t even make sense to ask a customer to send back a specific item. If the item isn’t likely to be resold at a profit, you’ll be wasting money and hurting your sustainability efforts by requesting the item to be sent back. Instead, you can use Loop to set up conditional rules to determine how to proceed with an item return: While some can be sent back to the warehouse, you may ask customers to send others to a recycling or donation center, or to simply keep the item while receiving a refund. 

  • More retained revenue
    The biggest expense when it comes to returns is the volume of customer churn. Many first-time shoppers who purchase an item and then decide to return it aren’t likely to come back – which means you’ll need to invest more heavily into customer acquisition efforts to replace those lost customers. But by using Loop’s exchange-first platform, customers will have the option to easily choose a replacement item or store credit in exchange for their return, rather than requesting a refund. That means that Loop merchants typically retain 40% of revenue from return transactions – and are able to turn customer churn into loyal, ongoing relationships. 

Boost your business with better reverse logistics

While your brand is likely already focused on delivering a great customer experience through every step of the customer journey from initial touchpoint through to delivery, it’s time to extend that journey through the post-purchase experience.

By making efforts to streamline and improve the post-purchase experience, including optimizing your reverse logistics flow, you’ll be able to impress your customers with a great returns experience that will encourage them to remain loyal to your brand. A better reverse logistics process will also help you optimize your costs and routing, so that you’ll be able to benefit from reduced operating expenses during the return shipping process.

Ready to learn how Loop can help you optimize your reverse logistics process? Check out a demo.