Innovative Retail Technologies

MAR 2013

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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Q&A Omni-Channel Retailing Returns Management — More Than Just A Label As consumers purchase more online, their expectations for how returns are handled have changed. Marc Smith, director, product management, Canada Post by Bob Johns R eturns management has become a major issue for retailers as e-commerce continues to maintain double-digit growth. Knowing how to handle returns has become a huge customer service issue for retailers as online competition increases. Here we speak with Marc Smith, director of product management in the parcels line of business with Canada Post, to discuss how retailers can take returns management from a cost center to a profit center. What are some of the things a retailer can do to make the returns process easier for the consumer? Smith: The first thing to do is identify a kind of return profile to determine what type of return volume the retailer will see. Hard goods may see a very low percentage of returns, while soft goods such as men's apparel may see a return rate in the low teens. Women's apparel can see return rates up over 20%. So, figuring out what sort of volume you will need to be able to handle becomes very important when considering inventory levels and stocking personnel. Returns management has become more of a focus for retailers. How do you approach it when speaking with retailers? So what would be next "Consumers love ... being Smith: I keep telling people on the list for a retailer able to make the return at that returns management has when considering returns to become part of the retail management? a physical location. ... The DNA. E-Commerce is becomSmith: For retailers and cusgood thing is, this affords the tomers alike, a clearly defined ing a large profit center for retailers, but returns are eating retailer another opportunity returns policy is paramount. away at those profits. And if This must be clearly stated to upsell or capture that the return process is not handuring the transaction or locatdled properly, the customer ed someplace easily accessible possible lost sale." loyalty goes out the window. during the purchase process. Marc Smith, director, product management, Canada Post So, now you have not only One thing we have seen in lost a sale due to the return, many of the surveys we have you may have lost a customer due to the return process. completed and read is how important it is to the customer Retailers need to stop looking at the direct costs like shipto know up front if they have to pay for the return, how ping, restocking, and inventory levels and look at the real long they have to return it, how it needs to be returned, costs — missed marketing opportunities, lost sales, and and how they will receive credit. Sometimes the answer to lost customers. each of these questions is secondary to actually having 22 ● March 2013

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