Navigate. Choice made. The shopping cart is full and the order just placed. Success. However, sooner or later, the story turns round. Items returned. Consequence: unhappy customers. Disaster and a big headache, for both shoppers and retailers. However, the same reality can be treated from a different broader perspective only reading between the lines.
There are many reasons behind a return. The majority of times, retailers themselves are responsible. However, the retailer is indeed the only one who has the tools to bring out the positive side of this critical situation, managing product costs and product availability, displaying the most clear and correct information of every product, and offering multiple and faster solutions to always value and satisfy customers.
In a recent interview, Oliver Dahms, CEO of DAHMS solutions GmbH, has shared some first approaches on the current trends in returns management and how returns can become the goose that lays golden eggs too. He will host a session on this topic at our Handelskraft Conference 2016, so you can get whole insights on Thursday, February 18.
What are the main challenges for the industry in terms of returns and how companies can take advantage of them?
Besides processing costs, the main challenge also lies in product costs; not all of the products can be sold again at regular prices. Apart from that, the issue of tied up capital, in other words product availability, will play an increasingly significant role. While products are tried out and returned they aren’t ready for sale. Especially in terms of products with short lifecycles this matters a lot. This leads us to the issue of time. The fast processing of returns will gain importance not only for retailers. Also customers will increasingly push for faster credits.
According to a survey, the retailers themselves are responsible for high return rates. Which actions can companies take to improve their return policy?
There are many different factors that are responsible for return behaviour and consequently for high return rates. Optimal dispatch logistics is only one component. In order to reduce return rates permanently, nearly all parties involved in the process have to be taken into account. This already starts with product selection or product design. Obviously product advertising and presentation also play a crucial role. Products have to be well-presented, but the presentation shouldn’t deviate from reality too much. This wouldn’t only lead to high returns, but also to unhappy customers. Of course, also payment options (credit card, prepayment, account) have an impact on return rates. It might sound paradoxical but in some cases the extension of return periods has led to a reduction of returns. Maybe customers acquire a taste for products the longer they possess them.
How can the overall challenges in logistics beside returns be solved in the future?
In my opinion, there will always be returns as long as there is trade. However, raising the awareness of all parties involved in the process could have a sustained effect on returns rates. There are already certain successful approaches that reward customers for the reduction of returns. True to the motto: “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.
Will there be any innovations within the German market in terms of returns?
I clearly don’t see any singular activities and trends here. The most effective solution lies in considering and approaching the issue of returns holistically. Unfortunately I know only few market players that engage in this issue comprehensively.
Could you give us an overview about your session at the Handelskraft 2016?
In my session I will enlarge upon some of the aspects just mentioned. Furthermore I’ll give some practical examples that show which considerations and efforts are made with respect to returns management. I will point out the limits in terms of the return document that has been most commonly used so far and I will also expand on the returns frontend. Last but not least I’ll explain how to profit from returns.
What are your expectations for the Handelskraft Conference 2016?
First and foremost it is my concern to raise awareness for the issue of returns. Secondly, I want to reinforce the understanding that returns are no fixed and inevitable fact, but rather a business process that cannot only reduce costs, but has a high sales and business development potential. If I manage to convey returns not as a necessary evil, but as an opportunity, my expectations will be met.
If you don’t want to miss Oliver Dahms’s session “Die Magie der Retouren” as well as many other interesting presentations on topics like “»Suche – ein Feld voller Möglichkeiten«” by Daniel Planert from FactFinder, and many more industry experts, you can book your ticket to the Handelskraft Conference 2016 here!