It’s no secret that the eCommerce industry is plagued with returns far and beyond brick-and-mortar retailers. But things can get trickier when you add in the difficulty of involving returns to the actual supplier.
To properly manage drop shipping, your return policy must be anticipated. This is not something you can figure out on the fly because you’ll only frustrate your customers and suppliers. Instead, a plan to guide you, your supplier, and your customer through a smooth drop shipping return are essential to running a successful eCommerce website. That means understanding what your customers desire, your supplier’s rules, and where you and your actions fit in.
Here’s our quick guide to drop shipping returns and best practices.
Managing Expectations & Limitations
Drop shipping, for those who don’t know, is the act of a supplier delivering your product directly to the consumer. That’s super convenient, especially for larger items like furniture. Drop shipping is often ideal because you do not have to keep inventory or stock yourself. Instead of dealing with the hassle of acquiring inventory, you allow the supplier to send the product directly to the buyer after placing an order on your eCommerce site.
That being said, drop shipping does have its limitations. One major concession eCommerce sellers make is that they have little control of the shipping process. So, if you sell furniture online and work with a drop shipper, you won’t be able to inspect the quality of your merchandise or be able to spot nicked wood or miscolored products. These issues are common reasons buyers request returns in the first place.
For eCommerce sites that utilize drop shipping, any returns involving that type of product will already have a return policy, even before you think about creating one. That’s because every supplier has a return policy that they operate with, and if you are selling their product. They are shipping it to the consumer; you must abide by their policy as an electronic storefront owner or operator.
If a customer is upset with the policy they have in place, they may complain to you under the assumption you created the policy. Sometimes, no matter how often you reiterate that you have to operate under the supplier’s rules, customers can still get upset if they do not find the policy helpful.
There are plenty of ways to prepare for that possible conflict. The primary way to practice good drop shipping return customer service is to note receipts and other notices that return policies are subject to the supplier. Of course, it helps to explain this so that a customer wishing to make a return has a solid understanding of how the return will play out.
This helps the customer, but what about your knowledge of drop shipping return policies for your suppliers?
That responsibility is on you just as much as the supplier and the customer. Keeping track of each supplier you work with, and their shipping policies, returns, and exchanges saves you the stress of being in the dark when a drop shipping return is requested.
Many keep a document with notes on each supplier’s drop shipping policies handy in plain language to make distinctions between different suppliers. Knowing the policies well and having a good grasp on the steps required to complete a return saves everyone involved unnecessary stress and time wasted scrambling to figure things out.
To save time and stress, understanding the return policies of your suppliers and how they contrast and compare to yours can assist you in getting customers’ desires handled faster. A return does not have to be a negative experience, but it can turn that way if your response is delayed or disorganized. Taking the time to study up on your supplier’s drop shipping return policies now saves you stress in the future.
eCommerce thrives on smooth transactions, and whether it is a sale or a return, your customers will be more likely to shop again if you have a handle on operations.