#010 – Quick Tip: How to improve your customer returns process with this simple and free process

The Ecommerce Uncovered Podcast is a behind-the-scenes look at what makes ecommerce a success in today’s ever-growing and continually changing online world.

 The podcasts look to uncover the secrets of ecommerce success, so you can learn and apply to your own online business.

 Brought you by the Co-founders of Core Fulfilment, one of the UK’s leading ecommerce fulfilment service providers, Paul Burns and Jeremy Vernon.



Jeremy Vernon:   Hi, it’s Jeremy Vernon here. Welcome once again to another episode of Ecommerce Uncovered Podcast.


Today I just want to just bring you a quick tip on improving your return process. Something which we have been using for a while. I don’t think that many retailers use it. Certainly, I don’t see a lot. There are people using it. I think it’s a great service to use. Very quick to set up. Very simple to use. It’s certainly, free to set up as well. Obviously, you pay for the actual products being returned. Other than that, it’s actually a free service to set up and have for your customers to use. What I am talking about, is, Royal Mail Tracked Returns. It’s a great way for making things very simple for your customer to return the product to you. It’s not suitable for everybody. There are a couple of conditions, where it wouldn’t work. So, it’s only for UK base returns. So, this doesn’t cover any form of international returns. So, you’d have to find another solution for that. There are restrictions to the weight and size of the products and items that can be sent through the service. But nothing unreasonable. I’ll come into sort of detail about what those are a bit later.


I just really wanted to, it’s a very short snappy one this week. I just really want to give you this top tip of what we see as a really good way of making that return process easier and more convenient for your customers. So, one of the things why I wanted to talk about this, is, we see various approaches to how to deal with returns now. We work with lots and lots of retailers. Each retailer has their own way of managing their returns. But we’re just sort of trying to attune with that. Obviously, we see other sort of approaches from other businesses online as well. That ranges from pretty much no information at all about returns, trying to make it very difficult for our customers to return a product at all. I really wouldn’t recommend this at all.


There’s a real big link between returning customers and how easy it is to return. Obviously, one bad experience could put the customer off using you in the future. So, returns obviously is big part of the customer’s experience. So, having nothing at all or making it very difficult really, probably, isn’t an approach I would really recommend. Then obviously, the flip side to that, is, a real sort of chapter and verse, 101 different ways how you can return your item, which probably is going completely the other way, and making far too complicated for customers to really understand a process to return a product.


Now, that products maybe, they’re of the wrong size. They maybe have bought the wrong product. They obviously could be damaged. Or, it could be a change of mind. Obviously, they can return these products on all of those different reasons. I’m not going into the sort of detail of why people would return products. It’s more of how people can return to you as a retailer, and how you can make that very simple. Also, this can be integrated into your website. It can be a slip in the actual product that you send out, or a link to your returns page on your shipping label, something like that to make it very simple. So, the person who opens up the package really understands, that should they need to return that product, this is how you do it. It’s a very simple process to do that.


The actual portal with the returns, you can find if you actually go online and have a look at it. You can find it. If you put into royalmail.com\track-my-return. This is the returns portal, that your customer would land on. This is where you would link them to, if it’s from your website, for example. You come up with a Royal Mail landed page. Obviously, it just sort of says, print the returns label. What you then can do, is, then you can search for the retailer that has got this portal set up. So, if you’re using this, your customer will put in your company name, and then your branded returns portal would then be sharing on the Royal Mail sites.


So, I just go through this, and in a little bit more detailed, certainly, the benefits of this and a little bit more detail. Why would you do this? Well, first and foremost, it’s very simple. Royal Mail, I would say, have spent some time putting this together. It’s quite a simple process. It’s pretty much a 3-step process. One, you get onto the page. You search for the retailer. You then create and print the label. Then you take the product to your local service point or post of office, that’s obviously, Royal Mail ran. So, it’s very simple. Obviously, if a customer is returning a product, then they’re likely to go and have to drop it off at a shop. Return it to a bricks and mortar store, or alternative is somewhere else. Obviously, it could be a post office. If they’re posting under their own motivation and sending them back themselves. Then they only do something very similar, anyway.


But the thing here, is, obviously, you’re giving them the link to do it, very clear instructions on how to do it. Obviously, the biggest thing, is, you will be paying for this return on your customer’s behalf. There are certain scenarios, where you may choose, where you may not choose to pay for the return. There’s obviously, certain scenarios, where you have to pay for that return at retailer paid cost. But really, this is designed of you providing convenience to your customers and always that you’re paying for it. So, this really is where you want to provide that higher, more value-added level of customer service for return purposes.


The benefit of this, as I say, very simple 3-step process. So, very simple to follow. Obviously, customers can do it in their own time. It’s all tracked. This is working on the two main tracked services that Royal Mail has. So, Royal Mail 24 Tracked and Royal Mail 48 Tracked. So, you can have a standard service using the 48. Or, you can have more of an expressed service with the Royal Mail 24. So, it’s all tracked. So, for peace of mind for both you and your customer, once they’ve dropped this off at the post office, they will get a proof of postage. Obviously, the normal tracking reference they would get from any post office tracking service. They obviously then can track that through the process and can see that through to being delivered back to you.


As I’ve mentioned, it’s a paid for returns process. So, your customer is not paying anything here. All they’re doing, is, following a process, that they know how to shell out any money. So, obviously, if they’re returning an item, and you’re paying for it, that’s a really positive thing for a retailer to do. You wouldn’t necessarily in all scenarios, and not all retailers would do it. I fully understand that. But again, free return is another real value thing for online retailers to provide. It’s great customer service for doing that.


As I’ve mentioned, it’s UK retailers only. So, we can’t deal with international returns with this. So, you have to find another solution for that. Your customer will get an email confirmation and receipt. So, if they do it online, you have to provide their address. That address is provided in case there’s a problem getting that product to the retailer. So, for whatever reason, if there is a problem they get returned to sender. Obviously, they’re taking it into the post office so that the sender details are collected at the point of actually processing its return. Your customer will get that email confirmation to say, yeah, we’ve got it. Here it is. Here’s the tracking. Then obviously, ultimately, Yes, the retailer has confirmed safe receipt of that return.


The other big sort of benefit for you as a retailer, is that, the portal can be branded with your logo and some details about how your return process works. So, once the customer is on to the main portal at tracked my return, they would search for your company name. That would then bring up your company portal. That would have a logo. So, your customer knows they’re in the right place. You can then tell a little bit about how the returns process have worked for you. So, for example, you may have an order reference on a particular piece of paper in the parcel, or a particular location on the shipping label, for example. So, you can point your customer to what reference they need to be putting onto this return. So, an order reference or an RMA reference, something like that.


In terms of the actual products that can be sort of send via this method. It’s very similar to the sort of dims and weights, that you can use on Royal Mail for sending products out. So, it’s any item under 20 kg in weight. So, that will cover a huge amount of products. So, obviously, everything from clothing, gadgets. But really, things larger, heavier things, and certainly, furniture, other things like that, this isn’t going to work. But up to 20 kg are really does cover a huge amount of product. In terms of the dimensions of the box, that you need to have it is 61 x 46 x 46 cm. So, 61 being the longest length. 46 cm in height. 46 cm in depth. So, a reasonable size, much, much bigger than a shoebox. So, again, a reasonable size. You can also send tubes. So, it’s either boxes or tubes. Tubes, I think have to be maximum length of around 90 cm. but I guess, things like posters or large-scale prints or things like that. You could do that with this as well.


But just to say, this will cover a huge amount of products that you can send through this. You’ll obviously get a link. Oh sorry, you could provide a link to your particular portal. So, once you’ve set that up for the Royal Mail, and I’ll come to that in a second of how you actually do that. Once you set that up, you will have a unique link to your branded portal page. Obviously, you’re part of the overall Tracked Royal Mail Returns page that you go to with Royal Mail. But you will get for your particular portal. You’ll get a unique link.


So, on your website, where you’re talking about returns so where you’ve got your returns page, you can easily say to someone who buys from you, they go, jump onto your website, and ask, do you know how I do I return this product? One area you can do that, is, obviously, on your return section. You then can link back to the Royal Mail portal, and the sort of address that you have, is, something a little like royalmail.com\track-my-return\create\ and then probably 4-digits. So, 1234. It’s the 1234. That’s your unique code. That’s your store. Obviously, your store of number would be different to that. But that is your unique reference. So, every time, you can give a customer, whether it’s an email, or whether it’s on your website, you can send that to your customer. That will then go straight to your branded tracked return page so that there straightaway can get going on that return. Again, just another quick sort of solution to get your customers on there, and getting that return done in the easiest and simplest possible way.


Printing shipping labels can cost obviously the problem. Not everybody necessarily has a printer at home. Most people probably will have some way of printing some things. So, if they do have access to the printer, they can print a generated label that’s generated via the site. It’s a typical 6 x 4 style returns label as you would see as the product comes to you. They can print that on just normal paper at home or in the office and then attach that to the product. Then take that product through to the post office.


If the customer doesn’t have access to printing. Then Royal Mail has quite a clever solution for that as well, which is great. They called that labels to go. So, anyone without a printer, what they will do, they will go through exactly the same process. But instead of actually, physically printing the label at that point in time, they would just send an email. You get this email, anyway. But you’ll get, sent an email to the email address that you use for this whole process. That comes with a QR code.


Now, that QR code basically, is obviously then capturing all of the returns information. Who you’re sending it to, et cetera, et cetera. So, that QR code then you can take, send that email to an email address on your mobile phone. You then take that to your local post office. You scan the QR code. They then print the label for you. obviously, you print it on a sticky 6 x 4 shipping label. That can be applied to the return there and then in the post office. Hand it over. And then the return process starts.


So, even if you don’t obviously have printing facilities at home or in the office or have access to it, you can still do this, which is obviously, been sort of the biggest headache of printing stuff at home or certainly printing stuff in offices.  So, really, the sort of QR code solution has made that very, very simple. There are, I believe about 1,200 drop-off points, that customers can use. So, plenty of options. Most household have one or two. It’s just a very simple and convenient process for your customers to do those returns.


So, that’s it, really. I just really want to go through that, because we use this a lot and get some great feedback from it. It’s obviously something Royal Mail have done for some time. So, that’s it. It’s just the top tip, really. So, if you want to return, sorry, improve your return process, I suggest that you set up Royal Mail Tracked Returns portal. How to actually set it up? it’s very, very simple. If you currently have a Royal Mail account, sorry, you will need a current Royal Mail account to set this up. But if you have an account manager, you can contact your account manager and say, I’ll like to try and get this set up. Or, alternatively, you can contact, Royal Mail Direct. Now, I’ve got the email address here that you can actually contact. So, if you want to try and set up this portal, you can send an email to tracked.return@royalmail.com. Explain you’ll like set up the branded portal for your tracked returns. It’s free to set up, as I’ve said. Once set up so it’s branded, you’ve got your logo. You can send your customers there to process returns. I hope you’ve found that tip useful.


Just before I go, I would just like to ask a favour, really. If the content that we’re providing in the podcast, is helping you in any way, or you’re enjoying it, if you can give us a little bit of love, that’s probably what we’re asking for here. That will be great. It’s depending on how you subscribing. If you’re on iTunes, you could give us a positive review on iTunes. Or, if you’re on Stitcher, if you could give us a positive review on Stitcher. That will really help us build our audience. Obviously, sort of continue with the podcast that we’re doing. If you want to get in contact with us. If you’ve got any burning questions, or if you’ve got anything you would like to hear us cover, or if you’ve got any questions about what we do, you can get in contact with either Paul or myself, podcast@ecommerceuncovered.co.uk. We’ve also set up a new website for the podcast itself at ecommerceuncovered.co.uk. You can contact us via the site. You can obviously, comment and also, listen to the episodes, the previous episodes on there as well, as well as iTunes and Stitcher. So, just a big thank you for anyone that is subscribing and listening to our content. It would be great to have some feedback. Any sort of feedback positive or negative would be great. What we do well. What we don’t do well. If you’ve got any sort of ideas of what we can do in the future episodes, that will be great. So, thank you for tuning in. We’ll speak next time.



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